Press release: Business contribution to Britain’s biggest warships recognised

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 (07/12).

But the construction of the 280 metre-long ship would never have been possible without the essential work undertaken by small and medium sized enterprises (SME) from around Britain.

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.

Over 700 British SME’s 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.

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

Chief of Materiel Ships at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, Sir Simon Bollom said:

I am incredibly proud of how DE&S and our colleagues across Defence have worked in collaboration with businesses across the UK to deliver a programme of such global significance.

The success of the Queen Elizabeth class is a testament to the thousands of people who have worked on the programme and the vital skills they bring. I look forward to continuing our important relationship with industry to bring the second ship, HMS Prince of Wales, into service.

In 2015/2016 the Ministry of Defence invested over £18bn with UK industry, supporting more than 120,000 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.

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.

News story: UK bolsters defence ties in the Western Balkans

The trip marks the first time Mark Lancaster has been to Kosovo since he served there in 1999-2000 and it’s the first visit to Serbia by a British defence minister in more than 10 years.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said:

The Western Balkans is a key region for the stability and security of Europe, and the UK continues to play a leading role in supporting the Kosovo Security Force and the Serbian Armed Forces.

Our connections are historic; it is a hundred years since we fought side by side with Serbia during the First World War, and we will continue to build on our rich history with both countries in the years to come.

Mr Lancaster’s visit to Kosovo comes at a time when the UK has boosted its presence in the country, having recently deployed 30 troops to NATO’s Force based there to work with allies to promote safety, security and stability in the region. This is in addition to long-standing defence training assistance and capacity-building of the Kosovo Security Force.

The Defence Minister went on to visit Belgrade, to meet with his counterparts. It marked the hundredth anniversary since British and Commonwealth troops successfully fought alongside Serbian counterparts to secure the Salonika Front during the First World War. The UK has a proud history of training side-by-side with Serbian forces, with the 2nd Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment recently working on Exercise Platinum Wolf in Cepotina.

While in Kosovo Mark Lancaster met with President Hashim Thaci, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, Minister for the Kosovo Security Force Mr Rrustem Berisha, and Lieutenant General Rrahman Rama. He also laid a wreath at the UK memorial in Pristina and saw a demonstration by the Kosovo Security Force. In Serbia the Minister met Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin, laid a wreath at the Belgrade War Cemetery and addressed military personnel at the Peacekeeping Centre.

The visit comes ahead of the major Western Balkans Summit in London in next year.

Press release: Defence Science and Technology Laboratory appoints new Chief Executive

Gary has spent his career in the development and supply of mission-critical wireless communications solutions to public safety, industrial and transportation sectors.

He has previously held senior global positions at Sepura and at Motorola Solutions, where he had commercial responsibility for sales, services, operations and product management.

As Dstl’s Chief Executive, Gary will lead an organisation of over 3,800 scientists and engineers providing specialist, and in many cases world-leading expertise, across a wide-range of disciplines.

Ahead of his arrival, Gary said:

I am excited to begin a new challenge at Dstl, in an organisation that provides such essential skills, knowledge and capabilities in support of the defence, security and prosperity of the UK.

Sir David Pepper, Chairman of Dstl said:

I am delighted to welcome Gary to Dstl. He brings a wealth of experience in research and development and in organisational transformation that will be invaluable as Dstl moves into the next phase of its development. I am looking forward to working with him as he takes on his leadership role.

Gary will formally take up post on 1 January 2018. He replaces David Marsh, who has been Acting Chief Executive since the previous Chief Executive Jonathan Lyle left the organisation in September this year.

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News story: UK troops awarded UN medals for South Sudan peacekeeping mission

Updated: Text updated

MEDALS have been awarded to 106 UK troops currently deployed on Op TRENTON, the UK contribution to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

There are nearly 400 troops deployed in the world’s newest country, split across three locations. Soldiers from the 32 Engineer Regiment led Task Force were recognised for their service to the UN by the Special Representative of the Secretary General Mr David Shearer on parade in Malakal. He said:

I would like to recognise the commendable efforts of everyone here on parade and honour your dedicated service here in South Sudan. Your efforts and professionalism are highly regarded and you make a valuable contribution to UNMISS.Wear these medals as the proud and worthy ambassadors of your country and of the United Nations that you are.

The UK Engineering and Medical Task Force has made a vital contribution to supporting the UN mission through improving infrastructure in the form of helicopter landing sites, runways, jetty and drainage improvements and staff accommodation builds. They have also been staffing the UK built Level 2 field hospital which provides essential healthcare to over 1,800 UN civilian and military staff based in Bentiu.

Air Vice Marshall Gary Waterfall, Chief of Staff for Joint Operations, also presented medals and thanked the soldiers for their work which represents the UK’s renewed contribution to UN peacekeeping operations. He said:

We are dipping our toe back into the peacekeeping waters. But this moment marks that we have made it a step further, with our first full rotation earning their medals. I am proud of this achievement, and proud of all of you on parade that have made it possible.

The Commanding Officer of the UK Task Force is Royal Engineer, Lieutenant Colonel Katie Hislop. She said:

Today is about our people and providing the recognition that all our soldiers deserve; not just those visible on the parade square right now, but those who are in the sangars and behind the scenes covering essential duties to protect and sustain us.

The Task Force has faced some unique challenges during its deployment which began at the start of the wet season. However, through innovation and teamwork, much needed improvements to UN infrastructure in both Malakal and Bentiu have been made. These will have a lasting impact on the mission and the next engineering contingent has been set up well for success next year.

The current contingent will remain in South Sudan over the Christmas period, continuing to enable the mission to protect civilians and build durable peace. They will return home to their families in January 2018.

News story: Royal Navy ship set for Australia, Defence Secretary reveals

The Defence Secretary had announced that the ship would sail to the Asia Pacific whilst addressing the crew on-board in Devonport on Friday, and has now provided further information of the deployment.

During recent conversations with Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne the Defence Secretary reaffirmed his commitment to strengthening the Australia-UK defence relationship and exploring opportunities for our Armed Forces to work together.

The visit of HMS Sutherland, a Type 23 anti-submarine warfare frigate, offers further opportunities for the Royal Navy and the Australian Navy to collaborate.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

Though we may be currently battling against each other on the cricket field, when it comes to defence, we stand together with Australia as allies not opponents. Our countries have fought alongside one another since the First World War and we continue to stand strong in the face of today’s intensifying global threats.

I am pleased to announce that HMS Sutherland will set sail across the world next year and look forward to strengthening our close relationship with Australia.

The Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland will deploy to Australia in the New Year.
The Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland will deploy to Australia in the New Year.

The ship will visit Sydney, Perth and Adelaide and provides an outstanding opportunity for joint exercising. The deployment has the added benefit of showcasing Britain’s cutting-edge anti-submarine warfare technology.

Australia and the UK remain extremely close trading partners, exchanging £13.1bn of goods and services in 2016. In that year we also agreed to establish a bilateral Trade Working Group to begin scoping out the parameters for a future Free Trade Agreement. This week International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is in the country to advance the UK/Australia trade relationship, following a visit from Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin earlier this month.

In August this year both countries’ Foreign and Defence Secretaries strengthened the already close relationship in the 9th annual Australia-UK Ministerial talks (AUKMIN), agreeing on further joint work on cyber, Commonwealth and modern slavery. This deployment is a tangible demonstration of that commitment.

Whilst in the country earlier in the month, Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin announced the intention to look at the feasibility of fitting an Australian radar on future British warships. The ‘CEAFAR’ radar, developed by CEA Technologies, is already in service with the Australian Navy and a capability study to fit the radar to British ships will begin early next year.