The Government will today, Thursday 10 March 2022, publish the long-awaited National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh following a commission from the Prime Minister in December 2020 to focus on commercial opportunities, particularly green shipping, and all parts of the shipbuilding enterprise. Originally launched in December 2019, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) published the strategy which set out a vision for a productive, competitive and innovative naval shipbuilding sector. Mersey Maritime, which represents the Liverpool City Region’s, £4.2bn industry has welcomed the publication of this significant document and is calling on the sector in the region to maximise the opportunity it represents.
The strategy refresh will be launched by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, at Cammell Laird, the iconic and long established shipbuilder on the Mersey, signalling that the Liverpool City Region is strategically well placed to take a substantial share of the £4bn commitment for new vessels, including the Royal Navy pipeline. The Prime Minister will also announce an initial £2million of new funding to set up the Home Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme (HSCGS), with additional investment, for underwriting the finance of vessel contracts, to be announced in due course. The strategy commits to introducing the scheme within a matter of weeks. The other significant announcement focuses on the next stage of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition which will see UK SHORE, the new office for maritime emissions reductions, deliver £206 million of R&D around net zero projects. Mersey Maritime’s ‘Innovating Maritime’ project was set up earlier this year to help our members maximise this major investment opportunity.
Liverpool is one of the most significant maritime cities in the whole of the United Kingdom and has played a major role in the industry across the country for centuries. At each point, from the world’s first commercial wet dock opened in 1715 to the iconic role of shipbuilders on the Mersey such as Cammell Laird, this region has demonstrated its ability to lead the way in all aspects of maritime. We must seize this opportunity now for this area to play a significant part in the future of shipbuilding for the UK with the 30-year cross-Government pipeline that has now been announced.
The National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh sets out the conditions for the transformative change required to meet a bold ambition for the shipbuilding industry around every conceivable aspect of it going forward, including demand, skills, technology, exports and finance. The pipeline announced today covers a very significant number of new vessels for the UK Government and Devolved Administrations, including smaller vessel types. What is critical now is that our industry here in this region is able to demonstrate that it is willing and capable to provide the best option to fulfil the ambitious pipeline of work that is coming down the line.
This refresh work is a once in a generation opportunity to propel the shipbuilding industry forward in the Liverpool City Region. Recent years have seen a significant expansion within this key sector of maritime and there’s demonstrable confidence around our area to maximise all that is possible in design, build, repair, conversion of warships, commercial vessels, workboats, green shipping, leisure vessels and autonomous technologies.
Mersey Maritime is full square behind the wider vision for the industry of a globally successful, innovative and sustainable UK shipbuilding enterprise. We want to see this iconic maritime region take is full position at the forefront of the technological and environmental innovations driving the sector forward in this most globally competitive field. Our time is now if we will only seize it fully! We’ll do whatever we can to make that happen.