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30 November 2017

East Of England’s Contribution To Britain’s Biggest Warships Recognised

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin today recognised the vital contribution that businesses of all sizes from the East of England have made to the construction of the Royal Navy's largest ever ships.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the nation's future flagship and the first of Britain's two new 65,000 tonne aircraft carriers, will be formally commissioned into the Royal Navy by Her Majesty the Queen next week (07/12).

But the construction of the 280 metre-long ship, even larger than Norwich Cathedral, would never have been possible without the essential work undertaken by small and medium sized enterprises (SME) from around Britain.

Businesses such as Ipswich based Tex Special Projects Ltd whose 15 engineers and support staff provided structural engineering and glazing systems for both carriers.

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said:

"On behalf of Defence, the government and the whole of the United Kingdom, I would like to thank the hundreds of businesses around the country for the millions of hours they've spent equipping our ships in what has been an immense nationwide enterprise.

"Their Herculean efforts showcase our great British talent and saw HMS Queen Elizabeth complete her 2017 sea trials with flying colours as she prepares to project our interests right across the world."

Tex Special Projects Ltd was just one of over 700 British SME's that have supported the build of the aircraft carriers in what has been a truly national endeavour. The programme has brought together the best of British industry, with construction involving more than 10,000 people including more than 800 apprentices.

Chris Parker, Managing Director of Tex Special Projects Ltd said:

"Tex Special Projects Ltd have long been involved in a variety of Ministry of Defence projects such as designing visual control rooms within air traffic control centres for Royal Air Force and Royal Navy air stations across the UK. For this project we had to design and overcome some very demanding technical challenges, delivering a near uninterrupted 290-degree field of view of the flight deck, which is unparalleled in any nation's warships.

"We feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of this very prestigious capital project. For 12 years we have provided our technical expertise and supplied the Flying Control Room and all the ship's windows, wipers and blades. Without the Queen Elizabeth Class programme, the Special Projects Company would never have been formed, so we are extremely grateful for the exceptional opportunity it afforded us."

In 2015/2016 the Ministry of Defence invested nearly £1bn in the East of England, supporting over 5,000 full-time jobs, and benefiting local economies.

Last year saw the MOD's direct spend with SME's increase by over 10% across the country as it continues to make it easier for them to win defence business.

Education and Training Officer Lieutenant Debbie Harmer from Norwich, who serves on HMS Queen Elizabeth, said:

"I have the privilege of looking past the military equipment to the person operating it: the Able Rate manning the machine gun is learning maths to become eligible for promotion. The Airman lashing the helicopter to the deck is taking an English class to be able to help his children with their homework. The Warrant Officer who left school with no qualifications is nearing completion of a distance learning degree. Being even a small part in helping this fantastically diverse group of people to achieve their goals is very rewarding".

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin has launched initiatives such as a new Supplier Portal, which brings together a range of useful information for new and prospective suppliers in one place for the first time, a dedicated Twitter account to flag opportunities to SMEs and simplified contracts for lower-value, less complex procurements.

Soon after the commissioning ceremony on Thursday 7th December, work will continue apace to ready Britain's most advanced military vessel ever for the vital role it will play in projecting Britain's influence around the world.

Next year the new F-35B Lightning II stealth jets, the most advanced warplane in the world, will start flight trials from the ship, and HMS Queen Elizabeth is on track to be fully deployable anywhere in the world by 2021.

Both of the UK's aircraft carriers are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between industry and the UK Ministry of Defence.

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