National Shipbuilding Strategy Review

Written by Andy Grimshaw, MBDA Secondee

In Autumn 2019, a ‘Review of the Implementation of the National Shipbuilding Strategy’ was published by Sir John Parker. The 2017 National Shipbuilding Strategy was the Government’s response to the 2016 independent report on naval shipbuilding. The report included 34 recommendations which were all accepted by the government. The review provides an update to the headway being made against these recommendations.

A key takeaway from the review is that overall progress is encouraging but a ring-fenced shipbuilding budget has not come to fruition.

Other recommendations from the review are:

  • The Strategy definition of warships as frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers should be expanded to include all defence-funded vessels.
    • UK-only competition recommended for all future defence funded vessels to support UK industry and maintain sovereign capabilities.
  • MOD should aim for collaborative contracting models with equitable risk sharing and provision for industry to invest in their global competitiveness plans.
  • Type 31e ambitious contract timescales and price target has produced innovative industry response.
  • The 30-year master plan was originally intended to give industry visibility and security to encourage investment. This requires annual updates and adequate funding to increase industry confidence.
  • MOD should hold an internal review on the progress of the strategy, currently proposed for 2021.

The recommendations from the review align with ADS and the renewed focus is welcome. The shipbuilding industry is vital for the long-term security of the Royal Navy and supports high-value jobs in the shipbuilding yards around the country.

The Type 26 city-class frigate export achievements to Canada and Australia highlight the economic value of the industry. Volume is an important efficiency driver and ADS supports the consideration of exports from the outset which “has the potential to be transformational”.

The Type 31e frigate programme will be the first new contract to progress following the 2017 Shipbuilding Strategy.

The review of the implementation of the National Shipbuilding Strategy allows the progress made to be emphasized and the increased collaboration between the MOD and industry to be commended. While these recommendations are welcome, continued industry involvement in the National Shipbuilding Strategy is vital.