Royal Yacht Britannia will be built and operational within four years

Boris Johnson has announced that a replacement for the Royal Yacht Britannia will be built and operational within four years.

Downing Street has unveiled plans, which will see the new ship “host high level trade negotiations and trade shows and will sail all over the world promoting British interests” as a part of the country’s post-Brexit “open Britain” push.

The new £200m ship will replace the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was the 83rd and last royal yacht after Tony Blair opted to not build a replacement.

Downing Street said the new ship’s role will be “distinct from that of any previous national flagship” and will dock at countries that are due for prime ministerial visits.

But there’s just one small problem the Queen nor her family want one.

The idea that it might be named after her late husband Prince Philip was snubbed by Buckingham Palace and a senior royal told The Sunday Times that a royal yacht was “too grand” a symbol for use in the modern age. “It is not something we have asked for,” they added.

National Maritime Perspective:
It is not a new national flagship that we need to announce that we are once more “a great independent, maritime nation!” Whilst it would most definitely support shipbuilding in this country, there may just be better ways to represent and promote the best of British… but there again Boris is of course a sucker for vanity projects…anyone fancy a stroll across the Garden Bridge!

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MP fears Government ‘cop out’ will move ship building abroad

A Plymouth MP has described a plan which could see new Royal Navy support ships effectively built overseas and assembled in Britain as a “cop out” – and called for the ships to be wholly built in the UK.

The Government has announced a £1.6bn competition to deliver three fleet solid support ships, which will carry munitions and provisions for the UK’s aircraft carriers.

Yet a key component of the competition allows successful bidders to be allowed to work in partnership with international companies but are required to “integrate” the ships in UK yards.

Unions have also issued fierce criticism of the move, as they say it will allow the ships to be branded as “made in Britain” even after they have been mostly built overseas and just put together in the UK.

A Unite the Union national officer said: “The competition launched by the Government is slippery as an eel. The concept that the contract could be won by a UK-led bid but then designed and completed largely overseas is highly dubious. Instead, defence secretary Ben Wallace needs to show his commitment and faith in UK workers’ skills and expertise. UK’s shipyards are in parts of the country which should be at the forefront of the government’s levelling up agenda. If the work isn’t fully awarded to UK yards it would be a betrayal of those commitments and these communities.

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Ambitious renewable energy hub plans unveiled for the Port of Leith

Forth Ports Limited unveils ambitious proposals for the creation of Scotland’s largest and best located renewable energy hub on a 175 acre site at the Port of Leith – supporting Scotland’s economic recovery and energy transition plans and the achievement of Scotland’s net zero carbon emissions targets.

This £40m private investment will see the creation of a bespoke, riverside marine berth capable of accommodating the world’s largest offshore wind installation vessels. The facility will feature a heavy lift capability of up to 100 tonnes per square metre (t/m2), backed up by 35 acres of adjacent land for logistics and marshalling. This will be supplemented by the upgrading of a 140 acre cargo handling site to accommodate lay down; assembly; supply chain and manufacturing opportunities. The total area is equivalent to around 100 full size football pitches. 

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UK orders for Royal Navy ships support Scottish shipbuilding jobs while SNP may turn to Poland to build much-needed ferries

The existing CalMac Ferries Limited fleet is creaking at the seams, with regular failures and breakdowns. CalMac’s largest ferry, the MV Loch Seaforth, serves the vital Stornoway to Ullapool route, but is currently out of service having suffered an engine failure last month. It was expected to be back on service on Friday, in time for the bank holiday weekend, but will now not resume sailings until Monday at the earliest.

In the meantime, CalMac have had to move ferries from other routes to keep services to the Western Isles running, causing problems elsewhere. Across the west coast and islands, there are real concerns as to the future sustainability of the ferry services supporting communities.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this whole situation is that it should not have taken anyone by surprise.

Politicians have known for years that the current CalMac fleet is ageing and prone to breakdown, and needs a major replacement programme.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Angus MacNeil who represents the Western Isles has now suggested that it is time to look at Poland or other shipbuilding nations to provide the vessels that are needed by the communities he serves. The fact that such a prominent SNP figure is suggesting that these ferries may have to be built outside Scotland just demonstrates how serious this issue has become.

It really would be a supreme irony if an SNP government in Scotland were left in a position where they had to off-shore the construction of new ferries to shipyards elsewhere in Europe, or in the Far East, due to the inability of their government-owned yard to fulfil orders.

And it would be even more ironic if the future of Scottish shipbuilding was being secured thanks to the spending of a UK Conservative government, able to take decisions and deliver investment in a manner in which SNP ministers could only dream of.

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Fleet Solid Support ships competition launched

The UK Ministry of Defence has launched a £1.6 bn competition to acquire three new Fleet Solid Support ships that will keep the Royal Navy two new aircraft carriers stocked with supplies while at sea.

The competition marks the UK’s second attempt at the programme to acquire the new Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships that have consistently drawn criticism for the UK government’s plans to allow foreign shipyards to participate in the work.

Under the competition, the UK wants the three ships delivered by 2032. High-level requirements for the competition include a ship design that ‘minimises whole-life cost’ and meets sustainability objectives.

The National Maritime SME Maritime Working Group which helps drive trade and growth for maritime SMEs operating within the UK will continue lobbying government to ensure that products and services used on the builds are ‘sourced, serviced or produced in the UK under the UK Quality Mark of Excellence.

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New £2.2 million lifeboat will transform the way RNLI volunteers are able to save lives at sea

It’s great to see the RNLI making the #maritimeconnection with National Maritime SME Working Group Champions the MIT Group, who have proudly supplied the two Twin Disc MGX5086SC gearboxes fitted onboard the new Shannon Class vessel that will patrol the waters of the River Medway.

After a long delay because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the state-of-the-art Shannon class vessel arrived at her new permanent home of Sheerness, after leaving the RNLI’s headquarters in Poole, Dorset.

The new £2.2 million lifeboat will transform the way Sheerness RNLI volunteers are able to save lives at sea. With a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 250 nautical miles, the self-righting lifeboat is ideally suited for offshore searches or equally for rescues in calmer shallower waters, such as the creeks and channels of the Medway.

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Europe’s oldest dry dock set to close

Europe’s oldest dry dock is set to close at the end of May which could be the end of an era in a Cornish town. Penzance Dry Dock was the first of its kind in Europe when it opened in 1834 but now looks set to close.

The facility is leased by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group which has confirmed that it is pulling out.

In a statement the group, which runs ferry services to the islands and is based in Penzance, said: “The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has leased Penzance Dry Dock and operated it as a business since 2009. In 2019, the company decided to focus on its core operations of transporting passengers and freight by sea and air.

“Following an extensive review over the past 18 months, the company has regretfully decided not to renew its lease of Penzance Dry Dock and will close the operation at the end of May this year.

“This decision affects 11 employees who were informed in February. Following a consultation process, around half this number are expected to be retained in other roles within the business.”

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Tyneside shipbuilder says hundreds of jobs at risk if housing scheme goes ahead

A&P Group Limited Tyne has promised to fight a proposed housing development next to its factory in Hebburn, after claiming the plans could put hundreds of jobs at risk.

A&P said that the jobs of the 200 locals it employs could be jeopardised by the housing plans.

The company has taken issue with plans for the Kelly’s Yard development which, if approved, would see 448 houses built at the former Hawthorn Leslie Shipyard.

Kelly’s Yard – named after the HMS Kelly, Lord Louis Mountbatten’s K-Class Destroyer in WWII – would also include a café, restaurant, bike repair shop and a museum honouring the site’s history.

But A&P Tyne argues that developing the land into housing would severely restrict its business operations and hamper future expansion plans.

David Mc Ginley, group chief executive officer, said: “As one the region’s largest employers, A&P Tyne delivers significant economic benefits to the North East economy. However, our ability to drive economic value to the region is dependent on our ability to deliver our projects.

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Promoting Safe Swimming – Be Seen, Be a Spartan – Open Water Season Officially Starts 1st May

National Maritime will once again be promoting the safe swimming message in support of the RNLI.

The first of May is traditionally when Channel swimmers begin their training, and many lidos open their doors. Whilst it’s time to shake off lock-down and get fit for a summer of swimming, please make sure you swim safely.

Drowning costs the world over 2.5 million lives in the last decade .The vast majority of these deaths could and should have been prevented.

BE SEEN, BE A SPARTAN – Good luck for the season ahead.

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Major jobs win for Scotland after InfraStrata Plc bags £26m Fabrication Contract

InfraStrata has announced that they have been awarded a contract by Saipem for the fabrication and load-out of eight wind turbine generator (WTG) jacket foundations for the EDF and ESB owned Neart na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Farm project located in the outer Firth of Forth in Scotland.

With work starting from July 1, 2021, Harland & Wolff will use its newly acquired Methil facilities for the fabrication work, creating around 290 direct and indirect Scottish jobs. Additional support may be provided as required by the company’s other facilities in Arnish, Appledore and Belfast with Saipem’s consent and should the need arise.

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