Ambitious plans are being launched for a £150m training and disaster relief ship with cutting-edge British technology.
Britannia Maritime Aid (BMA), a registered charity, aims to build the futuristic vessel in Britain.
It is officially launching its plans at the UK Chamber of Shipping on Monday September 9 during London International Shipping Week.
Maritime professionals and training experts have joined forces for the project with backing from former First Sea Lords, the Lord West of Spithead and Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh.
Others supporters include members of the Houses of Lords and Commons, shipbuilder Cammell Laird, ship designers Leadship, unions RMT and Nautilus International, the UK Chamber of Shipping, the Merchant Navy Training Board the maritime charity London Trinity House and the Government of Barbados, whose Prime Minister will speak at the launch.
The first-of-its-kind ship will be based in the Caribbean 365 days a year where it will deliver humanitarian aid and provide sea training berths for the next generation of UK and Commonwealth officer cadets, rating apprentices and trainees in trades associated with aid and reconstruction.
Its crew will focus on the environment and ocean advocacy – including beach and coast clean ups, plastic collection and research.
BMA chairman Captain Kevin P Slade said: “Having a dedicated vessel with a training and aid function is a first of its kind for the UK and would ease the pressure on the limited resources that the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary can provide.
“It will be an innovative use of essential and finite funds, increasing the effectiveness of the UK’s disaster relief work whilst also increasing the supply of British seafarers and supporting ocean advocacy.
“BMA has launched a crowdfunding campaign for initial costs needed to finance a detailed business plan required for the next stage – obtaining the necessary funding to progress from concept to reality.”
Admiral Lord West added: “Britannia Maritime Aid’s plans will significantly bolster the UK’s maritime capabilities in the long term while saving lives, supporting British shipbuilding and complementing the role of our hard-pressed armed forces.
“I fully support the proposals and urged others to give their support to ensure we make these very welcome plans a reality as soon as possible.”
BMA’s vessel – to be operated by a British company – will include a training centre, landing craft, helicopters, drones, rough terrain vehicles, onboard medical facilities, briefing rooms, conference facilities, workshops and full mission bridge and engine simulators for trainees.
The ship will be able to carry up to 6,000 tonnes of vehicles and aid supplies – more than ten times the capacity of current vessels – including field hospitals, field kitchens, tents, fresh water and fuel for devastated areas.
BMA’s project will provide much needed sea training berths at a time when the Government plans to double the number of Merchant Navy officer cadets under its SMarT Plus initiative. It will also boost Britain’s disaster relief capabilities and ease the strain of aid operations on the Royal Navy while creating jobs in British shipbuilding and the Merchant Navy.
BMA says the ship’s regular crew will be supplemented by maritime trainees, cadets and apprentices who would gain ship handling, navigation, engineering, boat work and pilotage experience.
There will be opportunities for life-changing training experiences for non-maritime industrial apprentices within the aid and disaster relief teams in trades associated with repairing and rebuilding communities.
BMA aims to deliver its ship by 2024, and will charter or buy suitable ships to run operations until its purpose-built ship is ready.
It has started a crowdfunding campaign for initial costs but intends to gain long-term funding from the Government, industry, the private sector and benefactors.
Visit www.britanniamaritimeaid.com and www.justgiving.com/campaign/BritanniaMaritimeAid