I’m delighted to kick off this week because Shipbuilding is incredibly important to us all. It’s not only important to me in the MOD as a customer, but it’s incredibly important to 44,000 people whose livelihood is taken from the Shipbuilding and maritime industry.
And as the Government is going to meet the ambition of our Prime Minister for a Global Britain’ we must make sure thus maritime industry delivers for the whole nation.
As Shipbuilding Tsar, I want the UK to be the country of choice for specialist commercial and naval vessels, as well as the systems, components and technologies which underpin them.
We shouldn’t forget the armada of rib makers, yacht designers, builders and suppliers and so forth that make up the wider maritime industry. Some of which sectors we actually lead the world in, and are the first in class for many shipbuilders in other countries as well.
I want our shipbuilding to be not just more productive, but more competitive, more enterprising and more innovative.
I want this nation to be a world leader in green maritime technologies.
And I want our brightest and best to actively seek out work in this sector, knowing they will have long, exciting and varied careers ahead of them.
This year we’ve made considerable progress.
I recently called on our nation’s shipbuilders to design and build a new National Flagship.
The ship, the first of its kind to be built and commissioned by the UK, will represent the very best of UK values, ingenuity and entrepreneurship across the globe.
We received significant interest from UK design houses and industry. Many more from the UK supply chain have come forward showcasing the cutting edge of seafaring technology and innovation.
19 qualifying bidders will now take part in a design competition to develop their proposals and bring this beacon of British maritime expertise to life.
I think we should take tremendous confidence in the fact that 19 came forward. Not one or two - Sometimes the customer has no or little choice , but 19. It shows how many people can be unearthed who are doing that around the world, but are based here in the UK. And I hope that we truly have an innovative design at the end of it, that we can be proud to say is British that we’ll take round the world and deliver that wow factor, as well as being a bridge between soft and hard power.
Later this year I’ll be publishing the National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh, that will not just extend our scope well beyond the purely naval to commercial shipbuilding but also reach beyond just hulls to internal systems and sub-systems.
So what will it mean for you and the industry?
You will get a much clearer demand signal about what we are trying to achieve with our procurement programmes.
For the first time we are releasing a 30-year pipeline of all Government vessel procurements.
As well as MOD vessels, this will include ships such as those procured by Home Office; the Departments for Transport, Defra, and the Scottish Government.
You’ll have a thorough understanding of both our policy and technology priorities - from net zero commitments to green capabilities requirements.
And you’ll be given the support you need to seek out and win orders both domestically and internationally. You will hear more from Minister Stuart about our export ambitions shortly
Finally from me. We want you to be working with an industry that is much more joined up. Government, industry and academia all working as one - addressing our shared priorities, creating a pipeline of skills and drawing on those proud traditions of shipbuilding in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to deliver for all parts of the U.K.
I’m sure many of you will want to know how we deliver these plans.
Today I am starting with launching a new National Shipbuilding Office
Hosted within the MOD and reporting directly to a ministerial group that I will chair, it will be the strategic centre that drives transformative change across the shipbuilding enterprise
Staffed by officials from across Government alongside experts from industry it will oversee all of our interests and effort to coordinate the long-term pipeline. And in doing so, capture the best of our thinking to ensure the skills priorities are aligned across the enterprise.
I am delighted that our senior team from the National Shipbuilding Office are here this evening. Led by CEO Rear Admiral Rex Cox, who will brings a wealth of experience to the role, and the whole team are eager to work with you, the industry.
The Prime Minister and I will continue to provide the political drive. The strategy refresh will explain our plans for future success. And now the National Shipbuilding Office will create the coherence for successful execution.
So today, as we embark on this journey, I am calling all of you in the industry - the UK’s brilliant shipbuilders and maritime supply chain companies, whether large or small, to seize this opportunity.
Demonstrating your expertise, boosting your businesses, but helping us promote the long overdue renaissance in our shipbuilding. One that encourages evermore nations to seek the made-in-Britain stamp.