Speaking at an event ahead of the HMS Queen Elizabeth naming ceremony this Friday, Philip Hammond told more than 200 business leaders that the sector should be proud of its work on the biggest ship ever built for the Royal Navy.
In his speech to the Institute of Directors, the Defence Secretary thanked the tens of thousands of workers who have been involved in constructing the aircraft carrier at shipyards and companies across the UK.
The 65,000-tonne vessel will be christened this week by Her Majesty The Queen during a ceremony at the dockyard in Rosyth, near Edinburgh, where she has been assembled.
Mr Hammond said:
The engineers, designers, steel-cutters, welders, plumbers, electricians, software writers and the many other trades that are required to build complex warships, from Rosyth to Appledore, from the banks of the Clyde to the shores of the Solent; together they have demonstrated what a united Britain can accomplish.
As a warship in service, she will not just be a military capability but a giant floating advertisement for the high calibre of Britain’s manufacturing and industrial base. The Queen Elizabeth will demonstrate that not only can we punch above our weight militarily, but also that we have the skills and ingenuity in this country to rival any in the world.
For half-a-century, she will be an enduring symbol of our commitment to play a leading role on the global stage. Those who have worked on this great vessel should take great pride. They have not just built a new flagship of the Royal Navy, but a flagship for the nation.
During the event, the first commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Jerry Kyd, was presented with a bottle of Scottish whisky that will be used to christen the vessel on Friday.
The bottle of Islay malt whisky, from the first distillery the Queen visited in 1981, will replace the more traditional champagne, reflecting the fact that the ship has been assembled in Scotland.