Royal Navy: Critical support ships for UK's aircraft carriers will be built in Britain, defence secretary says

CRITICAL new vessels supporting the Royal Navy’s two £3.2bn aircraft carriers will by developed by British teams in a huge boost for the UK’s shipbuilding industry, defence secretary Ben Wallace has vowed.

Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 2:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 3:31 pm

The Ministry of Defence said plans to build three fleet support warships, set to launch in the spring of next year, will see a ‘significant proportion of the build and assembly work to be carried out in the UK’.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘International companies will be invited to work in collaboration with UK firms to feed in their skills and expertise, but the successful manufacturing team must be led by a British company.

‘This will have a huge impact on the local economies across the UK where shipbuilding is a prominent feature.’

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Speaking on HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth today, as part of the Atlantic Future Forum defence programme, Mr Wallace said he would back British shipbuilding.

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It came following concerns that the critical new support vessels could be built in shipyards in Spain or Japan in a move critics said would harm the UK’s maritime economy.

The defence secretary said: ‘Shipbuilding has historically been a British success story, and I am determined to revitalise this amazing industry as part of this government’s commitment to build back better.’

An image of what the fleet solid support ships may look like. Photo: MoD

Mr Wallace said the shipbuilding programme would ‘develop the skills and expertise for the shipyards of tomorrow’.

He said the ‘fleet solid support’ ship initiative is expected to support hundreds of skilled jobs.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman added: ‘The fleet solid support warships competition will be designed to challenge the shipbuilding industry.

‘The goal will be to build ships fit for the future, while boosting homegrown skills and leading to a highly competitive shipbuilding industry.

‘The warships will incorporate next-generation technology with a purpose-built design and will eventually support HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales as part of the carrier strike group, which will undertake its first operational deployment next year.’

The move is expected to support a range of jobs, especially in Scotland.

Maritime firms in the Solent region are also expected to play a part in the vessels’ development.

The MoD said the fleet solid support ship competition will build on the success of the Type 31 frigate programme.

The new warships, set to be based in Portsmouth, are primarily being built in Scotland.

The construction is expected to support 1,250 skilled jobs and 150 apprenticeships across the country.

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