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The new National Shipbuilding Strategy will see warships built in the UK with the hope they will be ‘delivered to time and to cost’, while giving industry strategic direction.

The Government say that they will be investing billions over the next 30 years helping boost a renaissance that is happening in UK shipbuilding.

The option to build the ships in blocks reflects how the biggest ships ever built for the Royal Navy, the Carriers, were constructed.

“We are buying eight Type 26 Global Combat Ships and launching a competition to design and build a new class of general purpose frigates, the Type 31e, five of which will be built in the first batch. We are also investing in Fleet Solid Support vessels to support our carriers and deployed forces.

The Strategy is an important part of our broader industrial strategy that focuses on increasing economic growth across the country and investing in a more skilled workforce.”

The government say that the maritime industries employ 111,000 people, in 6,800 companies, contributing £13 billion to the economy. The UK is one of the largest exporters of maritime equipment and systems.

“We are partnering with industry to enable them to build a modern and efficient shipbuilding sector capable of meeting the country’s future defence and security needs.

We are committed to increasing skills, exports and prosperity across the UK while also creating a more stable and well-protected world that will keep Britain safe.”

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 for the navies of Britain’s allies and partners.

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 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.

39 COMMENTS

  1. Five Type 31e frigates procured IN THE FIRST BATCH.

    This surely means that the government actually intend to order more of these ships, thus increasing our escort numbers. If this “national shipbuilding strategy” is really what it is cracked up to be, we will hopefully be exporting the type 26 and 31e frigates, and thus reducing the price for each hull.

    Please for the love of god, Fallon, do not fuck this up.

    • At £1bn a pop I can see why we wouldn’t order 13 Type 26s.

      Hopefully he actually means it when he says “…five of which will be built in the first batch”, meaning we may get more.

      • Island nation ASW is where its at and 13 not enough for that. We send 14 T-26s abroad in Foreign Aid every year. Plenty of money #choices

        • and a lot of that aid is wasted….. but I cannot see our foreign aid policy changing in the short term. As someone else on here said, what MP is going to argue that we should stop helping children and buy military equipment instead? Not realistic so I am afraid we are stuck sending that money abroad and with the large black hole in the defence budget. I just read on Save the Royal Navy that the equipment budget is £20bn under funded. I can’t even begin to imagine the cuts that will be coming!

          • It’s not just defence Rob, it’s pretty much all vital UK public services where the ‘If this then that’ formula applies.

            Implementing a public sector pay cap whilst increasing FA

            Cutting firefighters whilst increasing FA

            Devastating cuts to social care whilst…

            Stopping schools infrastructure to fund schools abroad…

            It just needs to stop (well re-balance to 2007 sum with austerity applied) and reinvested back into the UK in all the above, of which defence is a part.

      • Yeah if it stays at around £250m and the conditions are right, manpower in a better state etc, there should be no excuses not to have another batch of 5 or 6.

    • interestingly the outline of the T31e graphic in the briefing paper seems to be that of Venator.

      now that would be nice, as would spartan

    • Hi Pacman, did you see this under the “Factsheet”?:

      “FLEET SOLID SUPPORT SHIPS:
      ´ Fleet Solid Support ships to support our carriers and deployed forces will
      be procured via international competition.
      ´ The competition is due to complete by early 2020.”

      I really hope the UK shipyards can work together to win these contracts and build them in the UK.

  2. i wish you guys would accept the reality that the country is close to broke and no government is going to cut foreign aid and then invest it into defence, as plenty of other needs would come first.

    Any strategy needs to work around that, which realistically means either less vessels or less powerful ones. the question is how to balance things to a level that continues to mean the UK can stand aligned with it’s allies and remain meaniful.

    • Seems to me from a hard-headed point of view (I live on the Clyde) that 2 carriers with some minimal escorts including Astutes, 2 or 3 squadrons of F35-Bs and some Merlins for anti-sub and AEW, fill that need completely (with or without Trident). And apart from that a handful of OPVs and light frigates, and that’s the UK still in the big league. The 2 carriers are more than enough for the UK’s share of world responsibilities for a country of 65 million.

    • Hi Steve

      Our country is not broke – we are in fact one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The problem is that our politicians have created an unsustainable benefits eco system that they then dont/cant fund (we can fund our commitments but higher taxes doesn’t play well at election time does it).

      So we can raise several budgets (not just defence) but that is a political decision that no one wants to take.

      On the other hand I think a £40bn defence budget is really quite large and for the life of me I do not understand how we get so little for so much. Time for audited accounts like the USMC I am afraid.

      • Pacman27 – no the UK isn’t broke, but when its government makes so much of “reducing its deficit”, it acts as though it is. Nothing really to stop the BoE printing off another £100 billion of sterling and spending it on defence within the UK if it wants.

  3. So, a read of the NSS suggests that outside of Carrier and CASD escort there will be no ASW capability / capacity.

    Not so much a strategy as a dereliction of duty then…

  4. I have just read it, it’s brilliant.

    It does read really well and they seem to have accepted everything Sir John Parker said, basically the main aim is for our shipbuilding industry to capitalize on its modest growth over the last 10 years to make naval procurement cheaper and on time. Industry and the MOD working massively together, loads of new jobs in the government for this to try make it work.

    The first big test is the type 31e, and we have 6 years to wait, this is the first project that all the new posts and cross government boards are going to be using this strategy on, if it delivers on time and budget, and at 12 month intervals then the strategy is working.

    This 30 year “master plan” is a great idea but it will not be released to the public, we just get a version that gives us an outline of their thinking.

    It seems the next announcement will be the FSS, then MCM, then Amphibious capability at the same time as the future destroyer in 2024/25.

    Sounds like they have already identified the customer for the Type 31e and that’s why it needs to be £250m, as well as that’s what they think the requirements and capabilities from the ship will cost.

    FSS will be built abroad probably, i’m guessing all support ships will now be built abroad. Us building some abroad will make UK shipyards keep a “competitive edge” sounds reasonable thinking to me.

    Continue using commercial platforms seen as its been a success (HMS Ocean)

    The government are making a massive contribution to exporting new ships, new posts and groups are being made. There will be an official government post who will try export the ships. Integration with the department for international trade as well.

    All warships, Carriers, destroyers and frigates HAVE to be uk designed and built. All others naval ships is open to international markets.

    They have appointed a director who will oversea this strategy.

    Sir John Parker will publish a report in a years time reviewing the strategy and how its doing.

    The 30 year master plan will be reviewed and adjusted if necessary at every defence review.

    It does seem like they accepted every part of John Parkers report and are implementing or at least have a plan to do every one of them.

    Constantly referred to growing the fleet in the 2030’s and the type 31e being the pathfinder, a lot seems to rest on the success of the type 31e

    That’s just a brief outline of important things i could pick up for those who can’t be arsed reading it. I do suggest everyone read it because there is a lot more in it, in detail, and it’s a really good read.

    I’m going to make a bold prediction, I reckon it’s going to work, why can’t it, this country is successful at loads of things, if the design for the type 31e is what they have asked for and cost what they want it to cost I reckon they have got a buyer lined up, that’s lots of work and lots of growth. It seems a corner has been turned, they have listened to everything and want to change to make it work.

    This is what we have been asking for for years, a plan of action with rolling shipbuilding and no expensive extended life refits, this is what they want to do and are now actively trying to implement it.

    This will only work if we continue to grow the economy, any recession and it will set us back years because orders will be cancelled.

    I think the fleet will grow in the 2030’s, as long as the economy continues to grow, according to the master plan it can only be frigates in that timescale, i’m going for a definite batch 2 order of type 31, and in 2024 when a decision is made on the future destroyer i’m going for 8. This is not wishful thinking, I’m going off their published master plan and evident commitment to grow the fleet.

    • Hi Kieran

      The 30 year timeframe is too long and not aligned to standard RN lifecycles (carriers 50 years and reactors 25 years) so I think a 25 year time frame is better. FYI the USN is 30 years.

      I would also like to see this schedule, budget and governance to be cross party and committed to for a period with a review of designs/requirements on a min 5 year basis.

      Other than that I think they just need to get on with it – I am not a big fan of Michael Fallon he seems to be a beaurocrat and not a leader and I will reserve judgement on this as he has promised to those involved in the Land Rover snatch debacle that British Forces will never again have substandard equipment – if he fails to deliver on this he should be stripped of his knighthood and prosecuted with the full force of the law.

      Our armed forces deserve more and this is a a good step forward only if it is realised. Delays in report and generality of it do not bode well for me I am afraid.

      • Hi mate

        I don’t think the 30 year timeframe is for the shipbuilding cycle, it’s just 2017 to 2047, the build cycles overlap into the next 30 year master plan. It looks pretty layered to me in figure 3 so everything is getting replaced and thought about getting replaced on time. Of course that will only ever work if we start getting things built on time.

        It seems the aim is to grow shipbuilding capability at all the yards across the UK so when the time comes to build the next new set of carriers the capability and workforce is there, an increase in hull numbers is essential for it to work so there is constant work for the next 40 years and looking at the plan that seems to be the case. The frigates and destroyers take us right into when the next carriers need to start getting built.

        Yeah I’m not a fan of Fallon either, but I think his role is limited, he’s just the mouthpiece, according to the NSS there will be a director of the strategy appointed and the first sea lord will oversea everything, so that’s good news.

        Yeah I agree we do need to get on with it, i do have a good feeling about this, we have innovative designers in this country and I reckon the type 31 will be a success, the government have stated clearly what it requires, it’s up to the designers and builders to come up with the goods. Lets see it happen.

      • I fail to see how Michael Fallon can be blamed for snatch land rovers when it all happened under Gordon Brown’s watch and their replacements were underway by 2011/2012.

    • It is a good plan, a very good idea and complete sense.

      If the RN hull numbers were there to support it and the RN properly I would be cock a hoop – but they just aren’t. I am more pessimistic than your good self and I lay the blame firmly at the Governments door for the choices its making.

  5. With a 750 billion national yearly budget there should be more than enough for the Navy.
    But trains to cut half an hour off s journey take precidence to defense .
    And yes the aid budget is way too big .
    They seem to forget the Navy built Britain.
    The skills , jobs , and capability the Navy maintains should be a no brainier , double the number of ships built should be good .
    And really did no one in government think that if the Marines were keeping the harrier we should not have scrapped them .
    It’s a sad fact that politicians have no clue about the jobs they get. Fallon one of the worst yet .
    I would argue that the skills created by the Navy far outweigh the costs and that to sell ships we should be committed to buy more of what we build.
    How can you sell something your own navy will not buy in significant numbers .
    I’m afraid look to Russia for how to arm ships , they use a bit more than harsh language.

  6. It is very disappointing that some ship yards have been guaranteed work for assembling vessels without bidding for it in an open and competitive way.

    I see this announcement today as simply window dressing. We need open competition for the construction and assembly of the vessels.

    I also notice that the costs mentioned have gone from £333 million a vessel to £250 million a vessel. Are we really going to get a capable war fighting vessel for £250 million when past vessels are all supplied at £1 Billion each?

  7. My son, currently serving on a Type 23 can retire in five years. He looks likely to do so. He is certain, as are many of his colleagues, that the RN will end up with 12 active escorts and with the rest being sold off as they are built. The Type 23s are overworked and falling apart and he says the government are telling blatant lies when they assure of them lasting into the 2030s. As for the Type 31s? They’ll probably be built and sold off to keep the shipyards working. There is a precedent for this. The Upholder Class ‘dodgy’ subs dumped on Canada. The RN cannot keep its manpower yet alone its ships (and subs)

  8. I see Britain’s national shipbuilding strategy is finally out. It wasn’t worth waiting for. After the Type 26 and the Type 31, which we knew we would get in any case, the fleet solid support, and all R.F.A. will be open to international competition. So, Britain’s national shipbuilding strategy is that many, many Royal Navy ships will be open to foreign competition, is it? What a joke.
    Canada also recently released a national shipbuilding strategy, a proper one, where ALL of the Navy’s ships will be built in Canada (including support, including everything).
    We want ALL the Royal Navy’s ships to be built in Britain. We do not want the Royal Navy’s ships being used to keep foreign shipbuilding going and foreign engineers in jobs.

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