The privately funded vessel would be employed in a bid to display ‘the soft power of our nation around the world’ minister Jake Berry told The Daily Telegraph

The minister said he and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox thought the boat would be a “great thing”.

While the money for its construction would come from private donors, there are anticipated to be around £10m in annual running costs.  The previous royal yacht, HMY Britannia, was decommissioned in 1997.

Mr Berry said:

“It would be a fantastic opportunity to show the best of British manufacturing on a global scale.

Anything we can do to support the conception of global Britain, do free trade deals, support businesses across the north of England and elsewhere, I do think we should give consideration to.”

In March, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

“It is my view that it would indeed add greatly to the soft power of this country, a soft power which is already very considerable. The new Britannia should not be a call on the taxpayer, if it can be done privately I am sure it would attract overwhelming support.”

In 1997, the Conservative government committed itself to replacing the Royal Yacht if re-elected, while the Labour Party refused to disclose its plans for the vessel. After Labour won the general election in May 1997, it announced the vessel was to be retired and no replacement would be built.

The previous government had argued that the cost was justified by its role in foreign policy and promoting British interests. It was estimated by the Overseas Trade Board that events held on board the yacht helped raise £3 billion for the treasury between 1991 and 1995 alone.

The new government said the expenditure could not be justified given other pressures on the defence budget, from which a replacement vessel would have been funded and maintained.

Proposals for the construction of a new royal yacht, perhaps financed through a loan or by the Queen’s own funds, have so far made little headway.

A Downing Street spokesperson said this morning however:

“There are no plans for a new (royal) yacht and it is not on our agenda.”

38 COMMENTS

  1. While I believe that the idea has some merit, in terms of the projection of soft power around the world, any running cost should certainly not come from the defence budget, which we all know is stretched to the bone already; given what it would be used for, there’s surely no reason that the FCO, DIT and BIS, perhaps with contribution from DfID, couldn’t club together and pay the MoD to man and run it.

  2. It should meet the definition of a foreign aid expense. After all is it not the globalist talking point that trade helps everyone and conferences are held on it? At least it would be an expense with the possibility of some renumeration unlike Kenyan pop bands.

  3. Why the hell would a ship used for diplomacy be funded out of the defense budget. Seems more like a Foreign office budget.

  4. I would broardly be in favour of a new Royal Yacht. Agreed its running costs should come from business, FCO and other non-defence budgets. I note that the old Britannia was over 400ft long, so quite a large ship. If it is built, I would like it to be designed so it could be used as a hospital ship in time of emergency. I thought the old Britannia was supposed to be available to be used in such a role but was not used in the Falklands. If the ship could be built with private money, running costs met by non-defence budgets, and be designed to be quickly converted to a hospital ship during emergencies, I think that would be an asset for the military as well as in promoting Britain around the world.

  5. If it’s a holiday yacht then it’s the height of insanity.

    If however it’s a floating royal embassy pressed round the world with the Royals doing wining and dining round the clock diplomacy as part of a Brexit hedge then I’m fine with it.

    Should crew it with Princes Trust kids and retired navy crew. Neither aid or MOD budget – it’s trade budget.

      • Also agree. Privately funded, there’s no reason not to build it. It would be a fantastic symbol and asset for the diplomatic service. However the running costs should never come out of the defense budget and the fact that the previous one actually did is utterly ludicrous. Why? It should have come out of the forign offices budget or somewhere else.

  6. I dont think this should be a starter at all, personally unless it really is a floating embassy which does add some value.

    4 hospital ships out of the foreign aid budget would be much better for projecting soft power, I mean even China is aware of the benefits of being seen to help people.

    It really is getting to the point that unless the people running the foreign aid budget can clearly account for their budget and justify it then it needs to be trimmed.

    I am not against Foreign aid – quite the opposite, but we need to cut our cloth and for me I want to see more RFA and RN ships providing humanitarian assistance – even if that means we loan these ships out to the Red Cross or MSF.

    If all of this comes out of private funds then great – if not then I would say no.

    • Smacks of Brexit Empire 2.0. Hospital ships are the way to go. Sad to say but China is taking the moral and economic high ground.

  7. Needs lots of thought and serious considerations:
    Good thought but finances need to be well thought through.
    Perhaps HRH Harry could advise?

  8. Such a yacht should absolutely should not be a high priority. Which other leading nation has one? Who will pay for its escort? Build some Type 31s! Buy some anti-ship missiles! Recruit some extra sailors! Focus on what’s important!

    • I agree, but both Norway and Denmark have one and I think they’re used as fleet auxiliaries. No idea about other countries, Spain has a speed boat.

  9. “It would be a fantastic opportunity to show the best of British manufacturing on a global scale.”

    Would probably be built in South Korea.

    • At least it would be much cheaper, on budget, on time, do what it’s supposed to do and not break down. Worst case is BAe building it for around the price of a nuclear carrier…

      • So wrong Stephen. On Budget from South Korea? The MARS oil tanker ships were actually over 610 million pounds with 452 million pounds having no tax clawback, so making them far more expensive built abroad with no incentive for modernising UK shipyards and invigorating local areas. Also, they are a year late, and as for breakdowns? Comparing to what? BAE is not UK shipbuilding. Try to understand this!

  10. And who will crew this vessel? In a view years time will it be available in times of war, natural disasters etc, because by then we wont have any real ships.

  11. I would build a decent sized RFA hospital ship on one of the Aegir hulls. Pay for it and the running costs out of the foreign aid budget. Give it a good flight deck and a well deck. Prince William would jump at the chance of being the pilot on its casualty helicopter. There’s a Sierra Leone, Philippines, Caribbean situation on an annual basis. Significant practical help in disasters and serious soft power influence.

      • Don’t know if its been studied. My post is by way of suggestion. A landing support ship would have a lot in common with a ship you want in a natural disaster situation. For a true hospital ship I guess you want more emphasis on helicopter landing spots. Argus was used in Sierra Leone, a Bay and Ocean in the Caribbean and HMS Illustrious in the Philippines. Perhaps a couple of additional Bays with internals optimised for medical facilties would also be an option.

      • The Aegir is a hull type and can be turned into anything.

        It could easily be configured into a Karel Doorman style multi role ship with a massive hospital – stores etc.

        We would keep the utility of it to provide stores, fuel etc, for emergencies, but configure its day to day use as a hospital and humanitarian aid ship.

        The smaller Danish version of the Tide has a hospital built into the design and is also being produced in Korea.

  12. Oh dear this expression of “soft power” has become BJ,s favourite expression as tho he originated it .
    Leave out the seemingly clever phrases it just adds to the shallowness of thought, As to the Yacht , well is it a just an ego trip or does it have real value, the attraction of the last one was that the Royals
    actually used it and its value was limited to the nearest Port of the country concerned. im not sure that its relevant in this day and age

  13. This is just a vanity project.
    at a time we cannot afford actual weapons for the Royal Navy warships or enough escort warships. This is a none starter.

  14. I saw it was described as a “boat” by the minister that really does say it all. Any politician who is interested in this total waste of time should be sacked on the spot.

    • HMS Mersey and Clyde go in 2019 but I’ve not seen any decommissioning dates for HMS Tyne. I’m still hoping we get 5 River 2’s plus Tyne which would help to free up a Type 23 for escort duties.

  15. The Royal Yacht was a superb tool to show the flag, host economic meetings for foreign trade, can be used as a hospital ship in times of war, or natural disaster. As a marketing tool to showcase the best of the UK, the Royal Yacht was UNBEATABLE. Now that the UK is going to have to rebuild its trading links, a new generation Royal Yacht is what’s needed.

  16. If we are building ships for soft power they need to be ships painted red.
    1) research vessels
    2) hospital and aid ships

    All build in British ship yards, brimming with helicopters built in Yeovil and full of British scientists, health care works, engineers etc doing stuff that builds links with other nations and makes us look engaged.

    Funded from the aid budget.

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