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Economy Economy

Grow shipbuilding in key areas

Last updated: 08:43pm 11 December 2019

We want to see shipbuilding growing on the Clyde and on the Forth, in Belfast and in Barrow, and in the north-east and south of England.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.21

Our verdict

The shipbuilding industry is worth “at least at least £1.5 billion annually to the UK economy, and it supports up to 25,000 UK jobs”. This policy is a pledge to grow shipbuilding around the UK.

In September 2017, the Ministry of Defence published the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS), adopting the recommendations from the 2016  Sir John Parker report. The strategy laid out a 30-year “masterplan” for the Navy’s ships and boats, identifying when decisions need to be taken for future purchases.

A January 2018 update on the strategy said:

“The Government signed a contract with BAE Systems for…three Type 26 frigates in summer 2017. They are to be built on the Clyde.”

In 2019, Sir John Parker was asked to review progress on implementation of the NSbS. His overall judgement was that progress is “encouraging”, but he expressed concern around UK yards having to compete against international competitors when bidding to build Navy vessels:

“I recommend that UK-only competition should be considered for future defence-funded vessels…”

A September 2019 update reported that Babcock’s  Appledore yard in Devon closed in March 2019, and Harland and Wolff in Belfast and Ferguson Marine in Glasgow both went into administration.

Bidding was suspended in November 2019 for three Royal Navy support ships, raising hopes that the contract might be reserved for UK shipyards.

Overall, despite encouraging signs from the implementation of the NSbS, with shipyard closures and ongoing uncertainty around procurement processes, this policy remains ‘in progress’.

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