Royal Navy Ships may once again be built on the Torridge

17th October 2017

Appledore Shipyard is a jewel in Torridge’s crown and in that of the South West of England. Its magnificent tradition of shipbuilding can compete with any in the world for sheer excellence and I am proud to be the MP for a Yard that has, against all the odds, survived and proven its quality time and time again.

Therefore, when the Government published the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS), part of the Government’s overall Industrial Strategy, which recommended a new approach to the construction of vessels for the Royal Navy by spreading the work around English – yes, English – yards, it was an occasion for real joy.

For, having met its author, Sir John Parker, while his report was in preparation, to discuss the strategy he would recommend to the Government and to point up the virtues and merits of our own local Yard, I recognised the immense opportunity that it would offer to Appledore. His vision was for a Royal Navy warship, the Type 31 Frigate, that would be built in a new way, specifically with a view to the export market, and by English ship yards that were willing to show the commercial and technical flexibility to make the approach work.

I pointed out that Appledore ship yard was the epitome of everything he was looking for; it habitually came in on or under budget, it delivered on time and the excellence of its workmanship and its technical adaptability and flair were legendary. It had been forced, over many years, to show these qualities to survive when larger yards were enjoying the fruits of guaranteed Government work.

When Sir John eventually wanted, in his published report, to illustrate the type of yard he was thinking about, he singled out Appledore, owned by Babcock Marine, and praised our local ship yard as one with an “entrepreneurial attitude” and a “willingness to embrace change”.

The Government formally accepted the recommendations of Sir John’s strategy and just last month, the Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Michael Fallon MP, identified Appledore in the House of Commons[1] as a ship yard which has a clear opportunity before it to build the next generation of Royal Navy Frigates. In September, Babcock Marine published its excellent proposed design for the new frigate, the Arrowhead 120.

Therefore, for the first time in a generation, it is now possible that Royal Navy warships will again be built on the Torridge.

Of course, the new ships will need to be supported by a Government with a clear commitment to our naval defence and Appledore Ship Yard will have to work hard, as it always does, to win the confidence of the Royal Navy and the Ministry of Defence.

But this Government remains committed to having the second largest defence budget in NATO and the largest in Europe and, just this month, the Secretary of State again confirmed the Government’s commitment to build the Type 31 frigate as part of its increasing investment in the Royal Navy.

Finally, I am delighted that the Secretary of State for Defence will soon visit Appledore Ship Yard to see for himself why we are so proud of the men and women who work there and of the extraordinary skills and dedication to quality and excellence of which they make proof in every ship that is built on the Torridge.

 

Surgery Dates

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2017

Saturday 2nd December
Bideford, Torrington
 
Saturday 16th December
Holsworthy, Tavistock