Speech: Robin Mortimer's keynote at the Maritime UK Spring Party

Robin Mortimer, Vice-Chair of Maritime UK gave the following address at the Maritime UK Spring Party.

Maritime UK has been very pleased to work with Norton Rose Fulbright for a number of years, and we greatly value your support and partnership. Clearly one of the world’s pre-eminent global maritime law firms, but also one committed to the UK’s maritime industries and a partner that gets stuck in.

That has been particularly evident with the firm providing our past Chair, Harry Theochari. Harry, with COVID and cancellations, we haven’t had an appropriate public opportunity to pay proper thanks to you for your service as Maritime UK Chair, and I’d like to do that now. During your tenure, Maritime UK took great strides forward, both organisationally and as a facilitator, coordinator, and enabler for the sector. The maritime industries owe a great deal to you, and we are incredibly grateful for your tireless work. We are of course very pleased that you continue to serve as a Director of Maritime UK. Thank you for everything you have done.

Thank you also to colleagues and partners here tonight. It really is fantastic to see so many people back together again, particularly when we consider the work that we have in front of us. In the room, we have Maritime UK members, partners, and sponsors, as well as colleagues from across government. I’m very pleased that some of the fantastic winners from the Maritime UK Awards held in Glasgow in March are with us tonight. Everyone present is working together to realise our Maritime 2050 ambitions, and tonight is about you. 

It is an opportunity to bring those working so hard on Maritime 2050 together, to recognise the progress being made, and to create new relationships to help take us further forward.  

I say tonight is about celebrating progress because together we really are making progress. So, let’s take a look at some of our recent successes as a sector.

  • Recognition of the sector’s critical role in decarbonisation through inclusion in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
  • £206m allocated for a new UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions and extension to the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition
  • The first freeports and green ports established
  • Over £4 billion committed for new vessels, including the Royal Navy Pipeline at recent spending reviews.
  • The reintroduction of the vital Home Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme, alongside a thirty-year pipeline of public vessels.
  • Establishment of the Maritime Capability Campaign Office and UK Shipping Concierge
  • Reforms to enhance the competitiveness of Tonnage Tax
  • A new National Flagship, showcasing the best of the UK’s marine engineering, technology and design.
  • A fantastic London International Shipping Week and COP26 programme
  • And more and more businesses getting involved with Maritime UK’s cross-sector industry programmes. Whether on careers, diversity or regional cluster development. Incidentally, it’s two years since Diversity in Maritime was launched, and I think we should celebrate the way in which the sector has responded to the challenge of increasing diversity – a massive amount still to do, but some really tangible progress is being made.

So, tonight is a chance to celebrate all this progress and connect with colleagues and partners who are playing key roles in these projects.

We have always said that we want to raise the profile of the maritime sector. Thanks to everyone in this room, we have and are doing so.

The sector is working closer together than ever through Maritime UK. Across our shared priorities of the environment, regional growth, competitiveness, people and innovation, we are clear about our heading, what we need from government, about our offer, and what we have the power to do ourselves.

To move the dial again, we need to work closer together still.

And there is a lot we must tackle:

  • Accelerating decarbonisation
  • Driving renewed growth in coastal communities
  • Boosting exports from maritime businesses
  • Enhancing the global competitiveness of London
  • Increasing the diversity and attractiveness of the sector
  • Ensuring we have the skills needed
  • Maximising the UK’s share of the growing global market on decarbonisation, digitisation and automation

So, I call for everyone in this room to commit to working closer together than ever. The UK is a world-leading maritime nation, and we face fierce international competition. But by working together, we are achieving much more than we do on our own. We can see real progress, so let’s do more of it. If you want to get more involved, do get in touch with the Maritime UK team or your MUK association.

In the coming weeks and months, there are some fantastic projects being launched and ways to get involved. They include:

  • Launch of the Maritime Skills Commission’s Green Skills Project, delivered in partnership with Cornwall Marine Network.
  • Launch of the new Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.
  • Launch of Maritime UK’s State of the Maritime Nation report, which will show we have grown to a sector with £116bn turnover.
  • Our Maritime 2050 Conference, hosted in Liverpool in partnership with Mersey Maritime, accompanied by Maritime UK’s 2050 progress report.
  • And in October we are hosting Maritime UK Week; a nationwide programme of activity to engage the public with the maritime sector, and we will be calling on everyone in this room to get involved. With port tours, ship visits or volunteering as an ambassador for schools and colleges, we need your help. Details on how to get involved are now on the website.

So, plenty of work ahead!

Thanks once again to Norton Rose Fulbright, thanks to everyone in this room, and I hope you have an enjoyable evening and get to know some of the other fantastic colleagues helping to make our sector greater still. Maritime UK looks forward to continuing to work with all of you!