New £200m ‘yacht’ to promote British interests
An impression of how the new vessel may look (Pic: Downing St)
A national ‘trade’ ship that will sail the world promoting British industry is to be commissioned by the UK government.
The vessel will be a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was retired in 1997, though it will be used principally by ministers and government officials to host trade fairs and diplomatic meetings as the UK seeks to build links and boost exports following Brexit.
It is expected to be built in the UK, at a reported cost of £200m. Britannia was built on the Clyde but some Scottish nationalists are already criticising the new project which may create some tensions with the rest of the UK if the work again came north.
Nationalists who have claim it is a waste of money were denounced on social media by those highlighting the millions spent by the SNP government on ferries that have yet to be completed.
Labour said the UK government must demonstrate clearly how the new ship is expected to boost trade, jobs and growth.
The Daily Telegraph has suggested it will be named after the Duke of Edinburgh, who helped design Britannia.
Royal Yacht Britannia: major tourist attraction (pic: Terry Murden)
The tendering process for its design and construction will begin soon with an emphasis on embracing British design expertise and the latest green technology.
Downing Street said costs for the “construction and operation” of the ship would be confirmed after the tendering process concluded.
Construction is set to start as early as next year, with the ship expected to enter service within the next four years.
The vessel, which is set to be in service for about 30 years, will be part of the Royal Navy and crewed by it.
Boris Johnson said the flagship would be “the first vessel of its kind in the world” and would reflect “the UK’s burgeoning status as a great, independent maritime trading nation”.
“Every aspect of the ship, from its build to the businesses it showcases on board, will represent and promote the best of British – a clear and powerful symbol of our commitment to be an active player on the world stage,” he said.
Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson, said if the ship is going to be part of a genuine plan for Britain’s future, the government “must set out clearly how it will boost trade, jobs and growth in every corner of our country”.
She said if the flagship is built, it should be made in the UK to support jobs in shipyards and there must be “a real focus on value for money at every stage”.
“Right now our country faces huge challenges, and there’s no sign the government has a plan for the recovery. We want to see public money used for targeted investment in a green economic recovery, resources for our NHS, and supporting families to succeed,” she said.
The Queen launched the Royal Yacht Britannia at the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank on 16 April 1953 and was seen shedding tears when it was decommissioned.
After travelling more than a million miles in its 44 years of service it has become one of Scotland’s biggest tourist attractions at Ocean Terminal in Leith. It has 390,000 visitors in 2019,.