South West's contribution to warships recognised

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Small business across the SW have had a vital part in the construction of the Royal Navy's largest warships

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin has recognised the vital contribution that businesses of all sizes from across the South West have made to the construction of the Royal Navy’s largest ever ships.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the nation’s future flagship and the first of Britain’s two new 65,000 tonne aircraft carriers, will be formally commissioned into the Royal Navy by Her Majesty the Queen next week Thursday.

But the construction of the 280 metre-long ship, longer even than the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, would never have been possible without the essential work undertaken by small and medium sized enterprises (SME) from around Britain.

Businesses such as Plymouth based Pipex PX whose 150 strong team supplied glass fibre reinforced epoxy pipes and fittings for HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said:

“On behalf of Defence, the government and the whole of the United Kingdom, I would like to thank the hundreds of businesses around the country for the millions of hours they’ve spent equipping our ships in what has been an immense nationwide enterprise."

“Their Herculean efforts showcase our great British talent and saw HMS Queen Elizabeth complete her 2017 sea trials with flying colours as she prepares to project our interests right across the world.”

Pipex PX was just one of over 700 British SME’s that have supported the build of the aircraft carriers in what has been a truly national endeavour. The programme has brought together the best of British industry, with construction involving more than 10,000 people including more than 800 apprentices.

Jeff Ince, Director of Composite Business Development at Pipex PX, said:

“It’s been amazing and a real privilege to be part of the project. It has been a culmination of over 10 year’s hard work. Our organisation initially didn’t have any interaction with the Royal Navy but by starting to supply small amounts of pipework for retrofit and refit jobs as well as working on the Type 45 really gave us the opportunity we wanted.“

In 2015/2016 the Ministry of Defence invested nearly £4.5bn in the South West, supporting 30,000 full-time jobs, and benefiting local economies.

Last year saw the MOD’s direct spend with SME’s increase by over 10% across the country as it continues to make it easier for them to win defence business. 

Petty Officer Paul Cummings, Bristol and who serves on HMS Queen Elizabeth, said:

“Living and working on the largest warship the Royal Navy has ever built is an incredible feeling.  As the galley manager, providing meals for the ship’s company is no easy task, but it’s one of which I am very proud.”

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin has launched initiatives such as a new Supplier Portal, which brings together a range of useful information for new and prospective suppliers in one place for the first time, a dedicated Twitter account to flag opportunities to SMEs and simplified contracts for lower-value, less complex procurements.

Soon after the commissioning ceremony on Thursday 7th December, work will continue apace to ready Britain’s most advanced military vessel ever for the vital role it will play in projecting Britain’s influence around the world. 

Next year the new F-35B Lightning II stealth jets, the most advanced warplane in the world, will start flight trials from the ship, and HMS Queen Elizabeth is on track to be fully deployable anywhere in the world by 2021. 

Both of the UK’s aircraft carriers are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between industry and the UK Ministry of Defence.

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