Latest thinking on UK Shipbuilding Strategy to be revealed at SMI annual conference

MARITIME businesses and professionals from across the UK and the world are being invited to hear the Government and industry’s latest thinking on the future of the UK’s shipbuilding strategy at this year’s Society of Maritime Industries (SMI) annual conference, due to be held virtually on March 16 and 17.

The conference will hear from ministers, officials and leading industry figures, and will detail how Government, business and academia have joined forces in the form of the Maritime Enterprise Working Group (MEWG) to help drive forward the recommendations of the 2016 Parker review. The review by Sir John Parker, the veteran industrialist, led to the Government’s national shipbuilding strategy, an industrial policy launched in 2017 aimed at recalibrating skills, capacity and competitiveness at British shipyards.

SMI CEO Tom Chant said the event, titled ‘Building the future of the UK’s shipbuilding enterprise’, will give maritime companies the opportunity to understand where Government policy is heading after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to ‘bring shipbuilding home’.

“This is a hugely significant moment for British shipbuilding and the supply chain,” he said. “The conference is a must attend event for any business or professional keen to seize opportunities in the reinvigorated British shipbuilding and marine engineering sector. We will hear how the strategy is evolving following a rich picture exercise undertaken by the MEWG, engaging stakeholders across the enterprise to create a shared vision. We will examine the pipeline of work from all key programmes, which offer significant opportunities to UK industry over the next 15 years. Importantly, we will hear how the thinking behind the strategy has grown in scope to include not only naval ships but also all ships built for the UK Government. This includes commercial vessels such as ferries and research ships as well as workboats and amphibious craft.”

Mr Chant said the event will feature presentations from the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Transport, the Department for International Trade, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy as well as the Royal Navy. He said they will be joined by leading industry figures from BAE Systems, BMT as well as double Olympic sailing champion Iain Percy, CEO of Artemis Technologies.

SMI CEO Tom Chant


Robert Courts MP, the Minister for Maritime will examine the impact of digitisation, decarbonisation and autonomy while BEIS will look at the global offshore wind market whose capacity is expected to skyrocket to more than 234GW by 2030 from 29.1 GW in 2019. Graham Stuart MP, the Minister for Exports, will speak about reinforcing British export success and help for SMEs.

Mr Chant said the event will reinforce just how ‘fundamental’ maritime is to the UK economy offering substantial export and growth opportunities for British firms post Brexit.

“As an island nation we depend on the sea,” he said. ”The sector in the UK is growing and was worth £46billion in GVA in 2017, up by £8.3billion from 2010. Meanwhile, jobs are also up by 24,000 since 2010 to more than 220,000. We must build on our strengths in engineering and innovation through measures like the shipbuilding strategy, and boost our skills, businesses and infrastructure and catch the exports tradewind. The global maritime industry is expected to double in size from being worth $1500billion in 2010 to $3000billion by 2030. That is the breathtaking scale of the opportunity.”

Mr Chant said the conference will host a permanent portal for businesses to access digital content generated for the event, as well as the recent work of the Maritime Enterprise Working Group. It will further provide a forum for discussion and engagement on the National Shipbuilding Strategy. He said the platform will enable companies to highlight their role and offer in the shipbuilding industry as well as input into the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Tickets for the event are £75, (£50 to members of SMI) to register to attend:

For details of Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsor package contact:

Outline Programme for the 2021 SMI Annual Conference

Conference Title – Building the Future of the UK’s Shipbuilding Enterprise

Subtitle: Broadening the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy and creating a shared vision for the future.

Day 1 – Tuesday 16 March 2021

Keynote Address: TBC, the Government’s ambition for UK Shipbuilding.

Delivering the UK National Shipbuilding Strategy –  Vice Admiral Nick Hine CB, Second Sea Lord A perspective on what we have achieved so far, as well as what the Royal Navy needs in the future.

–       Building a strong, vibrant and globally competitive UK shipbuilding industry, adopting a competitive approach to the delivery of surface warships.

–       The 30 Year Shipbuilding Master Plan – growing the Royal Navy fleet to retain operational flexibility and meet vital security and defence needs.

UK Shipbuilding Competitiveness and Market Focus Damien Bloor, First Marine International

–       An independent appraisal of where we are and some of the things we need to do, possibly including a view on shipyards of the future.

A More Ambitious Vision and Strategy for the UK’s Shipbuilding Industry – Joanne Hamer, MOD

– Expanding on the joint Government and Industry vision, the Rich Picture journey and the Strategic Plan for UK Shipbuilding.

Reinforcing export successGraham Stuart MP, Minister for Exports, DIT

– Opportunities in offshore wind and other maritime market areas, improving access to UKEF, help for SMEs and focussing on the supply chain.

Creating the right environment – TBC, Department for BEIS

– Industrial policy, Offshore Wind opportunities, innovation support and the R&D Road Map.

Panel Session

– Q&A with all of the above

Day 2 – Wednesday 17 March 2021

Keynote Address: Robert Courts MP, Minister for Maritime – Digitalisation, Decarbonisation and Autonomy

Harnessing our Scientific Superpower and Innovation – TBC MarRI-UK

– Enabling the UK shipbuilding enterprise through commercialisation of R&D

Building the Future – the Maritime Enterprise workstrands:

Supply Chain Brian Johnson from BAE Systems emphasising the importance of the Supply Chain and the opportunities presented by decarbonisation, digitalisation and autonomy

People and SkillsRichard Westgarth, from BMT talking about bringing together all of the good work on skills, including the Maritime Skills Commission.

Leveraging the High Performance Yacht and Leisure Sector – Dr Iain Percy OBE, CEO Artemis Technologies. Iain is a four time Olympian, three time Olympic medallist and double Olympic champion.  He is also a veteran of four America’s Cup challenges. Passionate about protecting the oceans, the economics graduate founded Artemis Technologies in 2017, with a mission to see how America’s Cup technology could play a part in the decarbonization of the maritime industry.

Panel Session

– Q&A with all of the above

Conference Conclusion Tom Chant, Chief Executive SMI


SMI is the trade association for companies involved in the maritime engineering, maritime science & technology and business services industries. Our approach is member focused in everything that we do in profiling and promoting the skills of the UK maritime industry; facilitating new business, assisting with research and innovation,  and promoting best practice for our members.  We engage with our members on a personal level to gain insight, enabling us to adapt to ever changing circumstances and market conditions, ensuring that we are consistently championing our member’s needs.

Our members’ interests are represented by our six councils which focus on the markets in marine science and technology, commercial marine including ship building, repair and equipment, maritime autonomous systems, digital technology, ports and terminals infrastructure and maritime defence and security including naval platforms, systems, security and safety.

Influencing Maritime Policy

SMI maintains a positive long-term engagement with Government, positioning us as the first port of call in influencing and advising maritime policy in the UK.

We represent our members by lobbying government and NGO’s for improvements to the business environment using our industry insight to advise on government policy associated with the maritime engineering and manufacturing, marine science & technology and business service industries.

Genuine Industry Insight

SMI Directors work very closely with members to understand their business issues and opportunities.  This brings genuine insight and a deep understanding of the maritime industry that helps shape how the SMI represent its members. Such insight is employed to connect our members to new business opportunities before going on the open market, and assists in maintaining a positive long-term dialogue with Government and position to influence.

Collaboration & Connectivity

SMI is committed to connecting members with each other in both our physical and virtual environments and we encourage collaboration between members large and small for mutual benefit.  Furthermore we value collaborating and connecting with other trade organisations to further champion the voice of the UK maritime industry.