As an island nation, the UK’s prosperity and security crucially depend on our ability to ensure access to the sea. With over 90% of the UK’s trade being carried by sea, the Royal Navy has a major role to defend our global trade routes.  This requires a sophisticated and broad range of capabilities deployed on warships and submarines.

The UK Naval Sector provides a large proportion of the systems and equipment that deliver these capabilities.  In the near to mid-term, the UK Naval Industries will be responsible for re-equipping the RN Fleet.  This will include a new deterrent submarine, the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers (the largest warships ever operated by the RN), Type 45 destroyers (that have already begun to enter service), the Astute class submarines (again, beginning to enter service), Type 26 Global Combat Ships (to replace the Type 23 frigate flotilla) and a new generation of “modular” ships to provide Mine Countermeasures, Hydrographic and Patrol capabilities.

The UK Naval Sector employs around 25,000 people in a relatively small number of large independent companies supported by a broad supply network that includes many Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SMEs).  The industry is spread across the UK with major waterfront sites for building and support in Glasgow, Rosyth, Barrow, Portsmouth and Plymouth.  The financial turn-over of the Sector is approximately £4bn/year.  

The product portfolio of the Sector spans Warships (from large Aircraft Carriers to Small Boats), Submarines (wholly focussed on nuclear ballistic and hunter-killer classes) and Systems & Equipment (from complex combat systems to highly integrated marine equipment).  Whilst the UK Naval Sector has traditionally been focused on delivering to the RN, the Government is encouraging Industry to export to appropriate markets.  The next generation of frigates has been termed the Global Combat Ship to reflect the growing emphasis on the world-wide market.

The UK has the capabilities and skills required across the entire life-cycle; from concept and detailed design through manufacture to in-service support and final disposal.  The capability includes the integration across platforms, systems and equipment. 

The Naval Sector is an important element in the overall UK Maritime Industry that will provide a significant response to underpin the UK’s economic recovery in the future security environment.

The UK Naval Engineering, Science & Technology Forum (UK NEST) was established in 2005 to address concerns about the sustainability and development of the UK’s naval design and engineering intellectual and knowledge base.  Membership of UK NEST is drawn from the “Customer” (RN and Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S)) and a broad Industrial community that includes the major suppliers (including BAE Systems, Babcock Marine, Thales Naval andQinetiQ) as well as smaller contributors (such as BMT Defence, and Systems Engineering Assessment) and Institutions and others (including RINA, IMaEST and Lloyds Register).  The aim of UK NEST is to provide a forum for the UK’s professional naval engineering, science and technology community through which to address issues of common concern, fostering specific professional development needs, and giving a focal point for interaction with, and influencing the wider Government and industrial community.

UK NEST provides a forum for common developments, such as developing the next generation of engineers.  

UK-based companies in the naval sector include:


The BNEA Council of the Society of Maritime Industries

BNEA is one of the six Councils of the Society of Maritime Industries and is the focus for defence interests of members of the Society of Maritime Industries servicing companies which build, refit and modernise warships, supply weapons and sensor systems and other naval equipment and provide related services in design, consultancy and finance in the naval market. The Society of Maritime Industries is a market orientated trade association representing and promoting the interests of British companies.