UDT 2019: UK ‘SubClub’ targets export opportunities
Whilst the UK might not build non-SSN submarines directly (or export them), the British government has turned its focus onto the domestic companies, across the supply chain, that manufacture vital components and systems that provide the DNA for these machines.
The UK’s Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) coordinates a collaboration with more than 40 businesses that meet a few times a year to share knowledge, market information and details on prospective opportunities from around the world in the naval and maritime field.
Cdre Stephen Walker, senior military adviser – submarine capability lead at DSO, told Shephard that the grouping of British businesses were here to present the UK market, ‘representing a holistic ecosystem of submarine/maritime capabilities’.
Referencing just some of the British companies present, he said how the 43 members of the so-called SubClub ‘represent a realistic picture of the UK in a dynamic export market’.
The genesis of the SubClub began in earnest five years ago, he said, explaining that since then it has gradually developed into a collective which comes together under the umbrella of DSO ‘to discuss the submarine export market and the opportunities available’.
Within his role as submarine capability lead at DSO, Walker acts as the secretary and chair for the SubClub and is able to present the government perspective on UK policies and market opportunities.
The forum enables industry, without infringing on commercially sensitive matters, to information-share on the prospects that present themselves.
Walker continued that this was an embodiment of the UK helping itself by identifying potential growth areas. Furthermore, if an international customer has a supply problem or industrial challenge and needs a specific technological solution, UK business can put thought towards how it can solve the challenge.
‘[SubClub] is a loose consortium to develop a customer solution under a government umbrella. DSO can do the government-to-government [work] for the consortium,’ he commented.
Adding on what the UK can bring to the international submarine market, Walker noted: ‘We do not export submarines in the UK, we do not have a prime contractor [per se] like the major foreign submarine developers. We do not build submarines domestically.
‘However, we build engines, non-nuclear, we make batteries and combat systems [for submarine platforms]. So, the SubClub exposes this supply chain.’
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