UK government to commission national flagship to fly flag for 'independent maritime trading nation'

Tue 1 Jun 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

british shipping

The government is commissioning a new national flagship to tour the world, promote UK trade and host international exhibitions showcasing British exports.

Construction on the vessel could begin in 2022 with a view to completion within four years.

The cost of the project could be worth up to £200m, according to the BBC.

Trade booster

Once built, the ship will host high-level trade negotiations and trade shows, Reuters reports. It is also hoped that the ship would provide a boost for the British ship building industry.

There will be an emphasis on utilising British design expertise and the latest green technologies.

Maritime trading nation

Boris Johnson said the ship would be “the first vessel of its kind in the world” and would reflect “the UK’s burgeoning status as a great, independent maritime trading nation”.

Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson, said the government should show “clearly how it will boost trade, jobs and growth in every corner of our country” and that it should be made in the UK.


The ship will become the first national flagship to promote UK trade since the Royal Yacht Britannia was retired in 1997.

Since then there have been calls for a replacement to be built, including from some proponents of Brexit who argue it will demonstrate an independent UK’s newfound trade confidence.

Out of date

However, critics say the plan harks back to a bygone age and is not how a modern Britain should be represented.

Peter Ricketts, a retired diplomat and independent member of the House of Lords, told the BBC on Sunday: “I think the fact that no other country has a ship like this is because the idea is now so long out of date and there are more modern ways of presenting the high tech face of Britain to the world”.