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Solent: The UK Naval Centre of Innovation and Excellence

08 September 2017

The HMS Prince of Wales has today, Friday 8th September 2017, been officially named at a ceremony in Rosyth attended by Solent LEP Director and Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Donna Jones, and Solent LEP Chief Executive, Anne-Marie Mountifield.

The second of two Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers, the biggest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Prince of Wales will be base ported in Portsmouth alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain's future flagship which sailed into Portsmouth for the first time last month. 

The 65,000-tonne carrier was greeted by thousands of people lining the Portsmouth seafront and represents a huge opportunity for the regions supply chain. 

The arrival also ensures that Portsmouth, already home to the Royal Navy, continues to be recognised as the centre of the UKs naval capability for 50 years to come. The City is looking forward to providing a similar welcome to the HMS Prince of Wales following its hand over to the Royal Navy in 2019. 

Today's naming ceremony follows the Government's response earlier in the week to Sir John Parker's independent report to inform the UK National Shipbuilding Strategy. 

The new Government Strategy outlines plans to transform naval shipbuilding in the UK and the Solent LEP welcomes the Government's vision to raise productivity and innovation and improve UK competitiveness in the domestic and overseas markets. 

The Solent will be critical to achieving this vision and the LEP has already made a number of key investments to support Naval and wider Marine and Maritime productivity and global competitiveness. These include funding for future skills at the £9.7m Marine Workshops and Maritime Support Centre at Portsmouth Naval Base and a combined £23m investment at CECAMM and CEMAST, two specialist skills facilities in the Solent each offering focussed training for the defence, marine and maritime sectors. Alongside investment in future skills, the LEP is also investing in future technology and driving innovation across the sector through the establishment of the UKs first Maritime Autonomous Systems Testing service in the Solent and a planned £5m investment in a National Maritime Systems Centre at Portsdown Technology Park. 

Recent LEP investments add to the presence of existing assets in the area. These include three internationally leading universities,  the National Oceanography Centre - the United Kingdom’s centre of excellence for oceanographic sciences, Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute - a unique and internationally recognised centre of excellence, bringing together industry, Government, research, innovation and education communities, and the Warsash Maritime Academy - the world's leading maritime education and training provider. 

Anne-Marie Mountifield, Solent LEP Chief Executive, said: 

It is positive that the Government has set out a clear intention to address barriers to investment and work with supply chains to ensure adequate access to finance and we are pleased to see that they will engage with the Local Enterprise Partnerships to maximise funding opportunities. In the Solent, we are looking forward to working with the Government to support the transformation of the industry, building on our investments to date and the unrivalled concentration of world class science and research assets we are proud to host in the area, to ensure the Solent remains the UK Naval Centre of Innovation and Excellence.

Donna Jones, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: 

The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth put Portsmouth under the international spotlight last month and I am already looking forward to welcoming HMS Prince of Wales to the city and showcasing our world class marine and maritime offer to the world once again. The boost the arrival of both carriers has to our economy cannot be underestimated. £100 million pounds was spent in the naval base supply chain in preparation for the arrival of the carrier alone and 1,000 new jobs in supply chain have already been created.