Britain’s reliance on foreign steel for Royal Navy nuclear submarines and warships is “an appalling state of affairs”, peers were told this week.
A UK government minister said specialist metal required to make Trident-armed Dreadnought subs and Type 31 light frigates could not be supplied from the UK.
But industrial leaders and unions have repeatedly said if they were given enough notice and sufficient orders, they would be able to manufacture the products needed.
Former head of the Navy Admiral Lord West, who triggered the debate, said importing metal for naval vessels stripped the UK of “sovereign capability”.
UK Steel director-general Gareth Stace said: “Steel is absolutely fundamental to the UK’s capability to function as a modern industrial economy.Targeted government procurement to support the UK’s steel sector – be it in shipbuilding or infrastructure – not only supports the steel sector and the thousands of jobs it provides, but strengthens national resilience, improves our sovereign capability and encourages investment in UK manufacturing supply chains.”
Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions general secretary Ian Waddell warned: “Both steel and shipbuilding are strategically important industries for the United Kingdom and our naval procurement programme should ensure that British ships are built in British shipyards using British steel. It beggars belief that the Government minister has said that we no longer have the capacity to produce the steel used for submarine hulls when we were able to do so just a few short years ago.”