‘Devil is in the detail’ with new shipbuilding strategy

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, has given a cautious welcome to the long overdue national shipbuilding strategy announced by the Government today.

The Secretary of State for Defence made a statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday setting out plans for the future of shipbuilding in the UK, many months later than expected, largely accepting the recommendations of Sir John Parker, which were made back in November 2016.

The strategy is designed to look at how to deliver the Royal Navy’s future requirements as well as the wider future for UK shipbuilding including export opportunities. There is a particular focus on a new type of frigate, the Type 31e, which- alongside the new Type 26- will replace the 13 Type 23 frigates that will start to leave service from 2023.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“I am relieved that the Government has finally announced its National Shipbuilding Strategy.

It is absolutely crucial to the defence and prosperity of our nation that the Royal Navy, industry, and workers have the certainty of a long-term plan and a clear vision of the future.

But now the Secretary of State must provide more detail on the timescales for the development of the Type 31e frigates, due to replace the Type 23s in just 6 years’ time.

It is also concerning that the Government appears to be trying to do more with less when it comes to our Naval fleet. It is vital that the cap on the cost of the new general purpose frigates does not reduce the quality of the frigates, especially in the face of the falling value of the pound.”

The Ministry of Defence estimates, as of 2016, that around 15,000 people are directly employed in UK shipbuilding and repair due to MOD spending. It also estimates that, based on this assumption, close to 10,000 additional jobs are indirectly supported through the wider supply chain in the UK.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy puts increased focus on a “block build” approach, saying that it will be considered alongside conventional build for all future surface vessels with decisions being made on a case by case basis.

The Labour MP will be scrutinising closely the details of the Tories’ plan as they are released after the Tories promised, but failed, to bring shipbuilding back to Portsmouth.

Stephen added:

“The Tories promised to bring shipbuilding back to our great city, only to abandon this pledge after an election to the people of Portsmouth.

I want this Government to do everything it can to protect local jobs, strengthen our economy and give Portsmouth the best possible deal. Sadly, though, their record is one of failure.

Announcements regarding block building are promising, yet as with anything from this Government, the devil will be in the detail”.