UK: HMS Queen Elizabeth to Signal National Awakening
The launch next summer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the Royal Navy’s two new carriers, will signal a national awakening to the UK’s continuing authority on the world stage, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, told an audience of experts from the defence and maritime industries today, Tuesday 10 September 2013.
The Admiral said:
“We await expectantly the rebirth of the United Kingdom’s carrier capability. We look forward to the launch event for HMS Queen Elizabeth next summer, which will be a real moment of national awakening.
“Because she will be the first of two ‘big deck’ aircraft carriers capable of delivering a full spectrum of diplomatic, political and military options.”
Speaking at the DSEI (Defence Security and Equipment International) exhibition in London, the First Sea Lord said he wanted to forge a closer relationship with defence industry, set against the backdrop of the UK Government’s commitment to a naval equipment programme which, by early in the next decade, is planned to be nearly half of the defence equipment budget.
The Admiral quoted the Prime Minister who has spoken of the UK maintaining the fourth largest defence budget in the world, to equip its armed forces not for the conflicts of the past but for the challenges of today.
Admiral Zambellas said this renaissance in the naval equipment programme was fundamental to meeting those challenges and that his ambition was for this genuinely strategic investment to be matched by an equally strategic maritime defence-industrial relationship.
The First Sea Lord said:
“So how would I characterise the future UK Naval Equipment Programme?
“Far from being stopped in the water at a time of austerity and fiscal pressure, the UK is experiencing an extraordinary renewal of its maritime capability.”
“And the scale of the UK’s investment in this programme matches the scale of the UK’s ambition to be a genuine international player with real influence and authority in the world.”
Although the initial costs of the carrier and other new ship and submarine programmes catch the headlines, the lifespan of these vessels will deliver real value for money to the taxpayer in the long-term.
“The reality is that the naval platforms which are being built today will have long life spans – very long life spans.So this longevity delivers real ‘bang for buck,” the Admiral said.
“This strategic national investment is linked intrinsically to the Government’s growth and prosperity agendas in a very significant way. In fact, taken as a whole, these core programmes are one of the largest engineering projects in the UK.
“Just in the carrier project alone, there are over 100 companies in the UK supply chain. They deliver world class, high-end military capability and the UK defence industry has a tradition of manufacturing excellence in this field.”
The First Sea Lord also stressed the importance of innovation to both the Royal Navy and the defence industry.
The Admiral said:
“The march of technology is remorseless, its options expanding exponentially.
“The drumbeat gets ever louder.
“In the maritime domain we need to be ready for it.
“We need to embrace it and we need to exploit it – because it generates opportunities,”
Press Release, September 11, 2013; Image: Royal Navy