SMI: Industry invited to hear about UK’s refreshed shipbuilding strategy

The latest thinking of the team behind the UK’s refreshed shipbuilding strategy, which is expected to include a multi-billion pound vessel pipeline due to be built over the next 30 years, will be discussed at the annual conference held by the Society of Maritime Industries (SMI).

As disclosed, commercial vessels in the strategy will likely include ferries and research ships as well as workboats and patrol craft.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh is also expected to include the Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ship project for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary to be awarded to one of four consortia in May 2023.

Another high-profile to be included involves plans for the new national flagship, scheduled to cut metal at the end of 2022 and start promoting UK trade around the world.

Maritime engineering companies are invited to hear about the opportunities in the National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh during the event, which will focus on offshore renewables, decarbonisation and the role of marine technology, on 8-9 March.

CEO of SMI Tom Chant said: “The UK is a world leader in offshore renewables and marine technology and the conference will identify how we can deploy that expertise to catapult British industry forward. The total cost of decarbonising maritime alone is being pitched at over £1 trillion and our conference will help companies understand the opportunities enabling them to adapt and evolve to win the business of the future.”

According to the SMI’s survey from 2021, there is a big increase in the number of companies embracing the decarbonisation agenda.

The survey painted a picture of positive change in the industry with 85% actioning green initiatives, two-thirds actively involved in green research and developing green technologies and 78% running incentives for staff to lower their environmental impact.

A further 78% said the environmental agenda is impacting the way they run their business with 93% saying their customers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of operations.

However, two-thirds reported the government is not doing enough to enable them to go green.

Some of the government’s efforts to propel green shipbuilding included launching a £20 million (about $27.7 million) competition to support innovative green maritime ideas and the development of prototype vessels and port infrastructure that could then be rolled out widely.

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Furthermore, 2021 was the year when the country included its share of international shipping and aviation emissions in the sixth Carbon Budget – an important part of the government’s decarbonisation efforts that will allow for these emissions to be accounted for consistently.

In line with the recommendation from the independent Climate Change Committee, this sixth Carbon Budget limits the volume of greenhouse gases emitted over a five-year period from 2033 to 2037, taking the UK more than three-quarters of the way to reaching net-zero by 2050.

The UK is also a signatory of the Clydebank Declaration, a coalition of 22 countries keen to develop green shipping corridors, launched during the COP26 in 2021.

Recently, the UK government launched a call for evidence to gather information on the costs, benefits, vessel emissions and options for increasing the use of shore power amid efforts to accelerate maritime decarbonisation through its Transport Decarbonisation Plan by switching to emissions-cutting shore power at UK ports.

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The article was edited on 24 February 2022.