$1.4bn sought to revitalise UK shipbuilding

With the government under Boris Johnson making repeated statements and photo ops on its keeness to bolster the UK’s shipbuilding industry, lobbyists are demanding cash to revamp the sector.

Maritime UK has set out the industry’s priorities in a newly published manifesto, as the government works on a refreshed national shipbuilding strategy.

The group has urged the UK government to invest £1bn ($1.4bn) in green technology and infrastructure to deliver the government’s promised shipbuilding renaissance.

The industry warns that plans must go far beyond a government wish list and instead detail decisive action to turn the tide on a shrinking shipbuilding industry. Maritime UK believes that can happen by putting decarbonisation at the heart of the strategy to revitalise UK shipbuilding.

The government must give the industry what it needs, which is a sea change, not a lifeboat

Ben Murray, chief executive of Maritime UK, said: “Shipbuilding is crucial to the livelihoods of our coastal communities, and the future of the planet, with decarbonisation being impossible without greener shipping. The government must face up to these stakes and give the industry what it needs, which is a sea change, not a lifeboat. Only then can the government deliver on its promise to bring shipbuilding back home.”

At the heart of the manifesto is a plea for the UK government to procure its vessels at home and provide new financial schemes to generate a stable and consistent orderbook for shipyards, recognising fierce competition from other shipbuilding nations.

The manifesto includes proposals to spur the industry’s transition to net zero and create more than 74,000 jobs, including in developing shore power charging points across the UK’s coast to power what was described in a release as “tomorrow’s Teslas of the seas”, as well as advancing green shipping fuels such as hydrogen.

Measures to increase export support to small and medium-sized businesses are also backed by the sector. These would include grants for firms trying to break into new international markets, especially as they build back from the pandemic.

The British government under Boris Johnson is determined to rejuvenate the nation’s shipbuilding sector with a host of nearly shuttered yards given a new shot over the past 18 months.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. We are taking a 19th Century, Clydebuilt tall ship, a four master, former oil tanker, to turn her into a global demonstrator for 100% clean emission propulsion, with energy storage systems. This will create jobs, offer retro fit and new build opportunities for U.K. yards, yet enterprise agencies are failing to help projects like this, despite a new innovative solution.

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