The first of the new ships are due to be in service by 2023 and shipyards would be encouraged to ensure the vessel was competitive on the global market by working with “global partners” Sir Michael Fallon said.
Defence ministers will today commit to supporting a “renaissance” in the British shipbuilding industry as they unveil the Government’s long-awaited National Shipbuilding Strategy.
British government is planning to purchase at least five frigates, and share the work between shipyards around the UK. “Backed up by the commitment to spend billions on new ships, our plan will help boost jobs, skills and growth in shipyard and the supply chain across the UK”, Fallon said. “Without a clear commitment from government, it will be foreign competitors who will benefit from vital work that should be taking place in United Kingdom yards – a glaring missed opportunity for the United Kingdom government as Brexit negotiations continue”.
The commitment to build the Type 31e comes ahead of next week’s Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition in London, which will see a “real push” for maritime sales, according to Stephen Phipson, the outgoing head of arms exports at the International Trade Department.
Crucially, they will cost about a third of the price of another new generation of frigate – the Type 26 – being built by BAE Systems at its yards on the River Clyde in Glasgow. 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 defence ministry said it aimed to grow the Royal Navy fleet by the 2030s.
Babcock International said in a statement: “We welcome the United Kingdom government’s announcement on the national shipbuilding strategy and the potential opportunities this could create for Babcock and the wider United Kingdom supply chain”. The sector has been boosted after Britain’s biggest and most advanced warship, the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, set out on its maiden voyage earlier this year. “There is an incredible keenness from around the country, from Scotland to Merseyside, to the southwest and over to Belfast”, Sir John added. She was built in blocks in six cities across the United Kingdom, before undergoing final assembly in Rosyth. This method has also been tried and tested on the UK’s new polar research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, with shipyards across the country collaborating in the block build.