The following remarks were delivered by Harland & Wolff CEO, John Wood, at the company’s reception at London International Shipping Week 2023.
Minister, colleagues, and partners,
I am delighted to stand before you tonight as we gather for the Harland & Wolff drinks reception at London International Shipping Week 2023. We come together not only to celebrate our industry’s achievements but also to look forward to the exciting opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
It is great to see so many friends and partners with us today. Thank you to the Minister for being such a strong supporter of our industry. From launching Maritime 2050 in 2019 to launching the Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme a few weeks ago. Thank you for your tireless support and championing of this sector.
Thanks too to Chris and the team at Maritime UK. This Global Maritime Hub is a fantastic way of showcasing the best of British and bringing us together to explore new relationships and forge new partnerships.
Harland & Wolff has a rich and storied history in the world of maritime engineering and shipbuilding, dating back over 160 years. From the construction of the Titanic (it was alright when it left our yard!) to the countless vessels that have graced our oceans, this company has been at the forefront of innovation, engineering excellence, and global trade. Tonight, we pay tribute to this legacy, but we also recognise that our industry is evolving at an unprecedented pace.
In today’s world, we find ourselves navigating a sea of change. From digitalisation and sustainability to automation and regulatory change, the maritime sector is in a state of constant transformation. But with change comes opportunity, and it is up to us to seize it.
As a company we are committed to playing our part across our four delivery centres in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England, representing 52% of the UK’s fabricating footprint.
We’re investing £77m in new shipyard technology to transform Belfast into one of the world’s most technologically advanced shipyards,
We’re operating in 5 markets, ferry and cruise, renewables, commercial marine, energy and defence,
We’re delivering a significant capital investment programme across our sites.
We’re creating 1,200 new UK shipyard jobs,
We’re forging new partnerships across the sector to deliver the best solutions for our customers,
And we’re developing a new talent pipeline through our industry-leading apprenticeship programme – welcoming 134 new apprentices over the past 24 months.
One of the most critical challenges facing our industry is the imperative to embrace sustainability. Climate change is not a future threat; it is happening now, and the maritime industry must place its role. We must work collectively to reduce our environmental footprint, innovate in clean energy technologies, and ensure that the seas we traverse remain pristine for generations to come. To that end, we were very pleased to support today’s BPA and BTA seminar on green tugs and look forward to seeing our own green tugs built and, in the water, soon.
We were also pleased to facilitate today’s roundtable for the UK’s Cruise Centre of Excellence, and I thank partners from across industry and government for coming together to collaborate to deliver maximum value for the UK in this rapidly growing market.
I feel hugely privileged to be a custodian of a great British icon. Harland & Wolff has always been synonymous with innovation. As we move forward, I have no doubt that our company will continue to be at the forefront of transformative technologies, from next-generation ship designs to green propulsion systems.
But we do not stand alone in this endeavour. The maritime sector is a vast and interconnected ecosystem, with each player contributing to the overall health and success of the sector. Collaboration is key, and together, we can overcome any challenge that arises. I know we are working with many of you in this room and we look forward to renewing and deepening relationships this week.
London International Shipping Week is a testament to the global nature of our industry. It brings together experts, leaders, and innovators from across the world to exchange ideas, build partnerships, and chart the course for the future. Let us use this week as a platform to foster meaningful relationships, share knowledge, and drive progress.
In closing, I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your dedication to the maritime industry. Whether you’re a shipbuilder, shipowner, port operator, or regulatory authority, your contributions are invaluable. As we raise our glasses tonight, let us toast not only to the success of Harland & Wolff but to the bright future of the entire maritime sector.
Thank you and may London International Shipping Week 2023 be a week of fruitful collaboration, innovation, and progress for all. Cheers!