THE Prime Minister visited Cammell Laird shipyard today to launch a 30-year £4billion plan to create tens of thousands of high-quality jobs in the UK's regional shipbuilding industry.

Designed to reinvigorate the shipbuilding and maritime sector as part of the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, the National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh outlined plans which include delivering a pipeline of more than 150 new naval and civil vessels. 

Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace undertook a tour of Cammell Laird’s facilities and met with apprentices. The tour also included meetings on board Type 45 vessel HMS Dauntless.   

Wirral Globe:

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defence Security Ben Wallace atng Cammell Laird today. Picture: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

The National Shipbuilding Strategy also builds on the UK’s increased support for European defence capability in the face of rising Russian aggression, with UK defence giant Babcock successfully being chosen as Poland’s preferred partner to deliver three new warships based on the UK’s Type 31 design.

During his visit the Prime Minister met apprentices and shipbuilding experts to understand how UK Government investment is creating jobs and levelling up communities across the country.

The UK's historic shipbuilding industry currently supports 42,600 jobs across the UK, from Cornwall to Belfast and Govan, and contributes more than £2.8 billion to the economy.

In a brief press meeting during his visit, Mr Johnson told the Globe: "Cammell Laird is one of the great shipyards of the world. I'm a passionate believer in UK manufacturing, but shipbuilding is something that this country has excelled and continues to do so.

"During my time in office over the years, I've been around the world and people want to buy our frigates, the Type-36s, Type-31s etc. These are a massive UK export.

"UK naval vessels deal with eome of the worst problems the world is facing. Right now, there are particular pressures as a result of the behaviour of Putin's Russia.

"People need UK vessels." 

Wirral Globe:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defence Security Ben Wallace at Cammell Laird. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

The NSbS Refresh will also establish a new UK Shipbuilding Skills Taskforce, led by the Department for Education.

The taskforce will work with industry and training providers across the UK to identify and address skills gaps, ensuring the UK continues to develop and nurture future-focused skills and knowledge to help our shipbuilders deliver the world-class vessels of tomorrow.

Meanwhile, as part of the strategy, the Department for Transport will invest £206 million in the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK-SHORE) to match fund research and development in zero emission vessels and infrastructure and ensure our place as global leader in green technology.

UK-SHORE will help tackle barriers to investment in clean maritime technologies, including investment in port infrastructure.

A new Maritime Capability Campaign Office (MCCO) within the Department for International Trade will also be established.

The MCCO will coordinate export support across government and industry and use robust analysis to improve our understanding about global markets, helping maritime suppliers to win export orders and increase UK market share.

Defence secretary and shipbuilding tsar Ben Wallace said: "As Shipbuilding Tsar, I am proud to be announcing our new strategy, this is an exciting time to be involved in the sector.

"With significant government investment, we will be levelling-up across our shipbuilding, workforce, from shipyard to supplier, from procurement to designer, creating tens of thousands of new employment opportunities, boosting living standards and pay.

"Our refreshed strategy will see the sector galvanised at a crucial time for our economy and see a vital part of British industry expand and flourish."

Mike Hill, managing director, Cammell Laird said: "Cammell Laird was delighted to welcome both the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary at our facility and to provide an iconic backdrop for this historic announcement today. 

"Cammell Laird has completed some of the most ambitious shipbuilding and block build projects in modern times, from the block build of the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carriers, the Astute and Dreadnought class submarines to the recent construction of the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

"Cammell Laird remains right at the heart of UK shipbuilding, and we welcomed this opportunity to showcase our facilities, skills and capabilities to the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary today." 

David McGinley, chief executive, Cammell Laird Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd, said: "Today’s National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh comes at a critical time for British shipyards and the wider supply chain. 

"The National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh will provide vital visibility and greater certainty of future UK shipbuilding projects and the ability to build upon our success.

"A more continuous pipeline and transparency from ​the UK Government on NSBS will ensure continuity and a welcome end to the stop start nature of UK shipbuilding.

"This will arm the UK’s shipbuilding enterprise with the confidence to upskill their workforce and invest in their capabilities and new technology."

Mick Whitley, Labour MP for Birkenhead said: "It is all very well having ship building ‘in our blood’ as Johnson said, but jobs, apprenticeships, skills and investment in the sector are all guaranteed by full order books for ships not lofty rhetoric.

"A thirty-year pipeline for the industry is welcome, but this strategy fails to British shipyards the cast-iron guarantees of work that they need.

"I've consistently called on Ministers to adopt a policy of building in Britain by default. Today’s announcement contains no such commitment.

"There are a wealth of highly-skilled jobs, training opportunities, and skills in British shipbuilding and shipyards like Cammell Laird have a vital role to play in levelling-up left-behind towns like Birkenhead. But the Government looks set to continue selling out British shipyards by sending work abroad.

"Building in Britain is about protecting and creating jobs and work, but it’s also important for the security of the country in a fast-changing and volatile world.

"The strategy also fails to address the immediate challenge of securing work for British yards in the short-term.

"It’s no good telling shipbuilders that things will get better in five or ten years’ time, when many yards are facing enormous challenges now.

"Today’s announcement was big on hyperbole, but it remains to be seen what this will mean for shipbuilders like Cammell Laird in the long-term. 

"The next major test of this Government’s resolve is the competition for the new Fleet Solid Support Ships. Ministers must ensure that these vessels are built and designed in their entirety in the UK.

"Anything else would be a historic betrayal of Britain’s shipyards and towns like Birkenhead."