September 5, 2017 / 11:18 PM / 19 days ago

Britain to buy five new frigates in new shipbuilding strategy

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon poses after an interview with Reuters at the British Embassy in Paris, France August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will buy five new frigates as part of a new shipbuilding strategy aimed at boosting the navy and exports following decades of decline in the sector, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.

Each of the first batch of ships will cost no more than 250 million pounds and will be built in Britain, the government said. The first ships are planned to enter service by 2023.

“Backed up by a commitment to spend billions on new ships, our plan will help boost jobs, skills, and growth in shipyards and the supply chain across the UK,” Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement.

Fallon added that the new ships would be used for growing Britain’s navy while also having export potential for other countries. The defence ministry said it aimed to grow the Royal Navy fleet by the 2030s.

The move to invest more in shipbuilding comes after closures and job cuts in many major centres. BAE Systems closed its yard in Portsmouth in 2014, and the sector comprises just 0.1 percent of GDP.

The sector has been boosted after Britain’s biggest and most advanced warship, the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, set out on its maiden voyage earlier this year. However, it may not be fully operational until 2026 because of technical difficulties.

Britain said that its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales was also now structurally complete, and would be officially named in September.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison

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