Britain unveils new national warship building strategy
LONDON, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Plans for a new fleet of smaller warships were announced Wednesday by Britain's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon as he unveiled an ambitious new national shipbuilding strategy.
The government said it accepted the recommendations of an independent review which called for a "renaissance" in British shipbuilding.
The new strategy outlines an ambition to transform the procurement of naval warships, make Britain's maritime industry more competitive, grow the Royal Navy fleet by 2030s, export British ships overseas, and boost innovation, skills, jobs, and productivity across the country.
The review also set out plans for the first batch of five general purpose frigates, type 31e, each with a price tag of no more than 250 million pounds (327 million U.S. dollars).
In line with British policy on warships, they will be built in Britain, with work shared between shipyards and assembled at a central hub.
This method of "block" construction is similar to the method used to build the recently commissioned aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy's biggest ever warship. Different parts were built at shipyards in six British cities and assembled in Scotland.
The first of the new frigates are to be in service by 2023, with British shipyards encouraged to work with global partners to ensure the vessel is competitive on the export market.
Fallon said: "This new approach will lead to more cutting-edge ships for the growing Royal Navy that will be designed to maximise exports and be attractive to navies around the world."
A spokesman for the MOD said: "The Type 31e frigates will be designed to meet the needs of the Royal Navy and with the export market in mind from the beginning." This could see the Royal Navy become industry's customer, as well as the navies of Britain's allies and partners.
"The MOD is committed to new ships for the Royal Navy through its rising budget and 178 billion pound equipment plan."
In July, Fallon cut the steel for the first of eight new Royal Navy Type 26 frigates as part of a contract worth nearly 5 billion U.S. dollars for the first three warships.
Sir John Parker, who carried out the independent review for the MOD, said: "The next challenge is to come up with a world-leading design, one that can satisfy the needs of the Royal Navy and the export market. We have the capability to do that, the will is there and it is a tremendous opportunity for UK shipbuilding. I see no reason why industry will not rise to that challenge." (1 British pound = 1.31 U.S. dollars)