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UK boosts naval shipbuilding program to 28 ships and submarines

The UK Ministry of Defence will see ship and submarine construction rise to 28 hulls thanks to a planned increase in defence spending to 2.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The increase in build numbers includes six new amphibious warships for the Royal Marines, to be built in the UK.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps, speaking at the annual Sea Power Conference in central London, announced that up to six new state-of-the-art warships will be built in the UK to strengthen Royal Marines special operations, as part of the Government’s plan to deliver a secure future for families across the United Kingdom.

Backed by defence spending rising to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade, the announcement means that there are now up to 28 warships and submarines planned or in build to benefit the Royal Navy.

Shapps also said that two of the Navy’s existing Commando and amphibious ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, will not be scrapped or mothballed before their planned out of service dates of 2033-2034

The new ships announced by Shapps are known as Multi Role Support Ships (MRSS) – specialist warships designed to rapidly deliver the Royal Marines Commando Force onto coastlines around the world to conduct special operations.

The UK currently has Type 26 and Type 31 ships under construction in Scotland, Astute and Dreadnought submarines under construction in Barrow-in-Furness, and Fleet Solid Support ships in Belfast and Devon.

“I am delighted that the Secretary of State has cemented the future of our Royal Marines by committing to this new class of up to six amphibious vessels.,” said the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key. “These will be the most capable amphibious warships the nation has ever owned, designed to be fully interchangeable with our closest allies in Europe, and in NATO.”

MRSS will be highly flexible warships, able to deploy on a wider variety of operations, and designed to carry vehicles, aircraft, insertion craft and a broad range of uncrewed systems for complicated missions. They will also be able to act as primary casualty receiving ships, providing urgent medical care to UK forces wherever they are deployed.

The UK MoD has entered the first, or Concept, phase of the MRSS Program and will work with industry as part of early market engagement ahead of developing the vessel design.

In line with the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, there will be up to six MRSS built overall, which will replace current capabilities, including the two Landing Platform Docks, three Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliaries) and the Aviation Support Ship RFA Argus, in the early 2030s.

“Our MRSS team has already begun engaging with the potential shipbuilding market to lay the groundwork for this versatile and essential future capability,” said Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) CEO Andy Start.

“With the MOD’s new Integrated Procurement Model in place and DE&S undergoing its biggest transformation in a decade we are aiming to be faster, more efficient, more innovative, more integrated and more productive when delivering new equipment such as the Multi-Role Support Ships for the Royal Marines.”

IMAGE: HMS Albion. Crown Copyright

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