Penny Mordaunt unveils three new ships touted as 'spiritual successors' to the Royal Yacht Britannia – as she boasts they will be capable of disaster relief, research and even tackling illegal migration

  • Post category:news
  • Reading time:5 min(s) read

  • The three ships could be used to tackle the migrant crisis and disaster relief 
  • Work to build them will go to Portsmouth, Belfast, Scotland and the South West 

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt has unveiled plans for three new ships to ‘fly the flag’ for the UK around the world, with the vessels touted as the ‘spiritual successor’ to the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The ships, which would be built in British shipyards, would be capable of everything from disaster relief to research, ocean clean-up and operations to tackle illegal migration, as well as hospital and medical training. 

Unlike Boris Johnson’s £250million plan for a replacement for the Royal Yacht Britannia, the proposed vessels would be commercially built and operated and funded exclusively by the private sector.

The first ship is expected to cost in the region of £150million with work to construct it potentially beginning as early as late next year, with the taxpayer not expected to foot the bill for the three ships. 

Speaking of her proposals, Portsmouth North MP Ms Mordaunt, 50, said: ‘The UK is a proud maritime nation, whose expertise is recognised and respected around the world.

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt has unveiled plans for three new ships to 'fly the flag' for the UK around the world

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt has unveiled plans for three new ships to ‘fly the flag’ for the UK around the world

The vessels touted as the 'spiritual successor' to the Royal Yacht Britannia and would be built in British shipyards

The vessels touted as the ‘spiritual successor’ to the Royal Yacht Britannia and would be built in British shipyards

‘These multi-purpose ships seek to build on this by providing additional capacity to our existing fleets to deliver additional training, scientific research and disaster relief, while giving businesses space to show off innovative British products and services.

‘They are not designed merely to replicate what we had in the past, but are based on a serious and detailed assessment of what the country needs in the future in a cost-effective way by working closely with the private sector.

‘These ships will fly the flag for the UK and will provide important additional resources for humanitarian relief and scientific research.

‘Their construction and maintenance will benefit the whole maritime sector, providing vital opportunities to train the next generation of shipwrights, captains, navigators and engineers.

‘They will benefit regions across the UK, including in my constituency of Portsmouth North, whose port and maritime sector will I hope play an important role in the life of these vessels for years to come.

‘I understand the comparisons to Britannia having grown up in the home port of Portsmouth. She was iconic. If Britannia were around today this is what she’d be doing – showcasing the best of what our nation has to offer and working in partnership internationally.’

Ms Mordaunt has championed the project since 2018, when she was the International Development Secretary.

They would be capable of everything from disaster relief to research, ocean clean-up and operations to tackle illegal migration, as well as hospital and medical training

They would be capable of everything from disaster relief to research, ocean clean-up and operations to tackle illegal migration, as well as hospital and medical training

The first ship is expected to cost in the region of £150million with work to construct it potentially beginning as early as late next year, with the taxpayer not expected to foot the bill

The first ship is expected to cost in the region of £150million with work to construct it potentially beginning as early as late next year, with the taxpayer not expected to foot the bill 

Since then, the former Tory leadership candidate has been working closely with experts, bringing together a coalition of businesses and organisations to drive the plans forward.  

Ms Mordaunt is working with Britannia Maritime Aid and other organisations to finalise the business plan for the ships, which would also act as a training platform for merchant mariners.

Although the Government would not be funding the vessels, they would be available as an additional maritime asset with lower operating costs than Royal Navy ships for some tasks.

The first of the ships is expected to cost £150million with the other two expected to cost ‘significantly’ less.

The vessels would be 135 metres in length with a breadth of 23.4 metres, and would be capable of speeds of 18 knots with a range of 6,000 nautical miles.

They would have 12000m3 of cargo space, capable of transporting 2,000 tonnes of aid, and would be able to accommodate more than 200 people including cadets, trainees and VIPs.

However,  top brass have questioned the proposal, with one top Royal Navy officer telling MailOnline the plans sound ‘half-cocked’. 

Portsmouth North MP Ms Mordaunt, 50, said: 'These ships will fly the flag for the UK and will provide important additional resources for humanitarian relief and scientific research'

Portsmouth North MP Ms Mordaunt, 50, said: ‘These ships will fly the flag for the UK and will provide important additional resources for humanitarian relief and scientific research’

The vessels would be 135 metres in length with a breadth of 23.4 metres, and would be capable of speeds of 18 knots with a range of 6,000 nautical miles

The vessels would be 135 metres in length with a breadth of 23.4 metres, and would be capable of speeds of 18 knots with a range of 6,000 nautical miles

‘I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but this sounds as though it’s still up in the air,’ the senior officer said. 

Mr Johnson’s national flagship plan, which was dismissed by critics as a ‘vanity project’, was finally sunk by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who prioritised funding to support Ukraine’s defence against the Russian invasion.

But industry bosses at Local Enterprise Partnerships insisted they were excited by Ms Mordaunt’s plan.

David Ralph, the chief executive, Heart of South West LEP, which covers Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay, said the project would be a ‘great opportunity to highlight the UK’s rich maritime and ship building heritage’ 

Anne-Marie Mountifield, Chairman of Maritime UK Solent – which covers Portsmouth and Southampton – said her region was ‘ready to play our part in the renaissance of shipbuilding’.

The project is in the final stages of planning before finances can be raised. 

It will then be overseen by an independent project board and a newly-established ship operating company.  




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