Independent review identifies key areas for development in UK shipbuilding

Published:  17 January, 2017

An independent review by the Academy’s Past President Sir John Parker GBE FREng has identified key areas for development in UK shipbuilding, which could play a greater role in generating exports for the UK.

The report identifies an opportunity for more shipyards across the UK to collaborate on modular construction projects, a technique that has already demonstrated success with the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. It also calls on industry and government to invest in a specialised Innovation Centre to challenge existing standards and bring about advances in design, manufacturing methods and materials.

Sir John says there should be a ‘stronger national co-ordinated effort’ to grow exports for the UK naval engineering sector, requiring support from the Foreign Office, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Ministry of Defence in addition to the Department for International Trade. UK industry should be able to compete effectively against international competitors, but naval engineers will need to fully embrace and invest in digital engineering technology in order to do so.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “From the skies to the seas, the UK has a rich history of engineering innovation, and I am pleased to see my predecessor so clearly highlight the ways in which this country can continue to innovate, and compete globally, in the naval engineering sector.

“Sir John’s forthright report on national shipbuilding strategy shows how the current situation can be dramatically improved, including through a regional industrial strategy, with targeted investment and consideration of how digital technology has changed the landscape for designers and manufacturers at every stage of the supply chain. Above all, and as the report recognises, we need to ensure we have the skills in place to meet the needs of a growing industry if we are to fulfil our engineering potential. A future industrial strategy must have the training of more engineers at its core if it is to work.”

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