Guto Bebb, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, recently confirmed the Government’s shipbuilding policy in response to a written parliamentary question. 

“The National Shipbuilding Strategy (paragraph 92) was clear that for reasons of national security, the UK prioritises the need to retain the ability to design, build and integrate warships.”

According to the ‘National Shipbuilding Strategy’ document, there are three tenets regarding UK shipbuilding policy that impact on the build location of contracts:

  1. For reasons of national security, all Royal Navy warships (destroyers, frigates and aircraft carriers) will continue to have a UK-owned design, and, will be built and integrated in the UK. Warship build will be via competition between UK shipyards. But international partners will be encouraged to work with UK shipyards and other providers to produce the best possible commercial solution.
  2. All other naval ships should be subject to open competition (provided that there are no compelling national security reasons to constrain a particular procurement to national providers). Integration of sensitive UK-specific systems will be done in the UK, where possible after competition between UK providers.
  3. Defence will take account of wider factors (including the impact on UK prosperity) when making these procurement decisions.

Other than procurement activity undertaken during the World Wars, the UK has not had a complex warship built outside of the UK since the start of the 20th century at least. All of the Royal Navy’s new complex warships are being built in UK shipyards and the UK Government says it remains committed to utilising the strengths of UK industry in this specialist and complex area.

21 COMMENTS

    • Let’s make it more specific. Does this mean that Babcock is wasting its time proposing a Thales combat management system for Type 31?

        • Problem is the actual hull is pretty much the least important part of a ship in terms of its war fighting, so Paul isn’t far off on his question said with pointed irony or otherwise. But then outside of Bae nearly all of our larger scale technical expertise is in, or owned by foreign companies and one day I would not be surprised if Bae becomes a US company in all but name especially as its having to use much of its its research budget to ‘bribe’ its shareholders to retain faith in its earning potential.

          • Yes, what I was driving at was indeed the issue of sovereign ownership of technology. The French for example have had an industrial policy for some time of nurturing strategic technologies and where they do not have them, buying them. As a result most would regard MBDA, Thales, Eurocopter, Airbus as essentially French led companies. Not to mention Dassault and DCNS. The UK industrial strategy seems to be the exact opposite, sell off skills and technology for a quick profit.

      • As long as Thales integrate the mission system in the UK they meet the requirement.
        However, all major RN ships currently have a Combat Management System from BAE (real time) and Hewlett Packard (near real time, ex-EDS). Integration into the Maritime Composite Training System is mandated for Type 31e training, which is going to be expensive for Thales if they choose a TACTICOS solution. The BAE offering is certain to be a cut down Type 26 CMS, which will make integration into the training system much cheaper.

        • Thx. Bonus question. How feasible would it be to use Tacticos and say a Dutch radar, if an export customer was interested in customizing Leander?

    • It has to be said as many times the SNP try and lie and tell the Scottish people that their second largest single site employer wouldn’t pack up and move down south in the event of secession.

      • For many Scots, in the event of an independent Scotland, the SNP remain unconvincing on the long-term future of ship-building on the Clyde.
        It’s another reason why so many of us don’t vote for them!

  1. This article is stating what has already been said, and Guto is just polishing the same t**d, in trying to make something that is in many cases bad for us sound good (like preparing us for yet another soul-destroying decision that the UK government felt it had to oblige, but says it got a brilliant deal in building yet more ships abroad, but we still have a national shipbuilding strategy. Like Heck we do. We know about the policy frigates and subs being built here!

    “2. All other naval ships should be subject to open competition (provided that there are no compelling national security reasons to constrain a particular procurement to national providers). Integration of sensitive UK-specific systems will be done in the UK, where possible after competition between UK providers”.

    So is Guto saying the once UKindustry/MOD Alliance was wrong and the UK want this idea of UK taxpayer-funded ship to be open to competition? What is “all other naval”? What is a Naval ship? Is a Fleet solid support ship naval but manned mainly by a civilian crew. For national security is there not sovereign requirement or need to support the more gunny missiley types of ship. Why is this minister trying to make a eu rule rule sound like it came from the UK government in the first place when we know it did not unless they did this for vested interests, actually thought it was a good idea or rather trying to insult our intelligence by using all sorts of reasons and excuses to cover the eu rule fact about procurement. Is there any online source in which we can find out who’s national procurement and taxpayer-funded projects get outsourced to foreign Countries the most? Someone give me a link.

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