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To preserve its ability to design, build, and support complex warships and submarines, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) will need to preserve and sustain several key technical skills in the maritime domain, particularly those of designers and engineers at various stages of surface ship and submarine acquisition and support. Its current naval acquisition programme, comprising several classes of vessels (such as the Astute-class attack submarine and the Future Aircraft Carrier), has brought forward questions regarding the MOD's ability to design, build, and support the intended fleet size. Building on prior RAND research, this monograph explores in greater detail the need for and retention of specific technical skills in the UK's naval industrial base. It investigates the relationship between the demand created by the MOD's surface ship and submarine acquisition programme and the technical workforce needed to design, build, and support those war vessels. The results reveal that, although the MOD has taken into account the need for these skills, its future naval programme likely will have to be modified or augmented to sustain these technical skills in the long term. In particular, the MOD needs to nurture design and engineering skills to bridge current and future gaps as its naval acquisition programme moves forward.

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This research was sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and conducted within RAND Europe and the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division.

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