Speech: Sarah Kenny's address at Maritime UK Awards 2022

Maritime UK Chair, Sarah Kenny OBE, delivered the following address at the 2022 Maritime UK Awards.

Secretary of State, friends, colleagues, good evening and welcome to the third Maritime UK Awards.

It is a particular delight to be able to welcome you to the great maritime city of Glasgow. A city synonymous with maritime, and one which hosted the world back in November. It’s very appropriate that we’re gathering here tonight on the banks of the Clyde on the day that the UK launched its National Shipbuilding Strategy refresh.

The UK brought the world together at COP 26, securing historic agreements, including the Clydebank Declaration, which will help drive our progress toward net-zero. A key theme of this evening!

When Maritime UK launched its annual awards in Southampton in 2019, we were determined to use them to shine a light on different parts of our maritime nation.

We’re a sector that makes a significant contribution to each and every part of the United Kingdom, and Glasgow is no exception. In Glasgow and Scotland as a whole, we have an incredibly compelling maritime proposition:

  • It offers Europe’s largest ship management hub,
  • world-class naval ship design, build and support,
  • globally recognised support to offshore energy operations,
  • and world-class nautical training, maritime universities and academics.

Taken together, Scotland is the UK’s second-largest maritime cluster, and we are proud to be here tonight.

Ours is a sector in the midst of transformational change and I am looking forward to seeing some of the projects that are driving that change here tonight.  

But before I say much more, I want to say a few words about the humanitarian crisis we are witnessing in Ukraine.

Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people and their families, particularly those who have been displaced by the conflict or suffered the loss of their loved ones.

The grit, determination, and resistance of the Ukrainian people in the face of such aggression and destruction are astonishing, and we pay tribute to them. They are the best of us. 

Since we last ‘gathered’ for the Maritime UK Awards in Plymouth in October 2020, there has been a huge amount of progress for the maritime sector, and that is down to people in this room tonight.

Let me remind you of a few of those successes:

  • The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution recognised maritime alongside aviation and provided an initial £23 million for a competition to develop clean maritime technology. Companies across the sector co-invested and collaborated to respond to this competition, and we are going to see some of those partners tonight.
  • After a strong campaign by the industry, and with fantastic support in government, this has now been extended to a three-year programme with £206m of funding.  
  • The government announced the first freeports and green ports, offering the prospect of accelerated sustainable economic development in coastal areas by growing maritime and related development.
  • We’ve seen over £4 billion committed for new vessels, including the Royal Navy Pipeline at recent spending reviews.
  • As part of today’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, we have also seen the reintroduction of the Home Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme, alongside a thirty-year pipeline of public vessels.
  • The Department for International Trade has launched its Maritime Capability Campaign Office, a dedicated team focused on supporting exports by maritime businesses, with a £12m budget.
  • “UK-SHORE” – or the Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions has also been announced today. This new unit will guide government’s interventions on maritime decarbonisation, just as it has done for the automotive sector.
  • The Chancellor announced reforms to Tonnage Tax, to help ensure the UK’s global competitiveness as a base for shipowners and ship managers.
  • The Government has announced plans for the building of a new National Flagship, and the opportunity to show the best of the UK’s marine engineering, technology and design.
  • We worked together to deliver a fantastic London International Shipping Week and COP26 programme for the maritime sector. And more and more businesses are getting involved with Maritime UK’s cross-sector industry programmes. Whether on careers, diversity or regional cluster development.

So, tonight is a chance to celebrate all this progress and connect with colleagues and partners as we collectively resolve to move the dial again for our sector.

Thanks to everyone in this room, maritime is a sector that is now being recognised as critical and absolutely fundamental to the country’s prosperity, sustainability, resilience and future. That recognition is to be welcomed.

But now we must build upon it.

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, but that we can offer too:

  • Accelerating the decarbonisation of the sector and our offer to the global maritime industries doing the same – we need to match this new public funding and unlock further private investment
  • Driving renewed growth in coastal communities and meeting the ambition to “level-up”
  • Boosting exports from maritime businesses and attracting new global investment
  • Increasing the diversity and attractiveness of our sector whilst ensuring we have the skills needed to underpin our ambitions as we move to 2050
  • Fostering collaboration to maximise 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. By working together, we can achieve much more than we do on our own. We can see real progress, so let’s do more of it.

We were absolutely blown away by the number and quality of award submissions this year.

You are making significant progress toward our shared Maritime 2050 ambitions. Congratulations to all of our finalists. To be here is a real victory, and we applaud you all!

You have demonstrated true leadership and are a testament to the strength and potential of our sector.

Tonight is a night to celebrate all that our sector has to offer. A celebration that would not be possible without our sponsors, and I thank each of you for your support and commitment to the sector.

We are also grateful to our Maritime UK members and partners in government, and in particular the Department for Transport and Department for International Trade.

On this note, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to a tremendous champion for the maritime sector, the Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan!