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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.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Project Methodology and Data Sources

  • Chapter Three

    Identifying and Defining Key Skills

  • Chapter Four

    How Technical Skills Are Represented in the UK Maritime Industry

  • Chapter Five

    Total Labour Demand by Current MOD Maritime Shipbuilding Programmes

  • Chapter Six

    Demand for Individual Technical Skills Generated by MOD Current Complex Surface Ship and Submarine Programmes

  • Chapter Seven

    Key Findings

  • Chapter Eight

    Areas for Further Investigation

  • Appendix A

    Incorporating Support, Repair/Refit, and Other Labour into the Shipyard Labour Modelling Tool

  • Appendix B

    Accounting for Low-Population, Highly Specialised Skills

  • Appendix C

    RAND's Shipbuilding Modelling Tool

  • Appendix D

    Demand for Individual Technical Skills from MOD's Baseline Shipbuilding Programme

  • Appendix E

    Survey of Shipyards

Research conducted by

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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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