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Sea Change – Ships, The Sea and Innovation

Speech by Ambassador Fiona Clouder on board HMS Portland, on the occasion of Exponaval 2016, Chile.

Speech on board HMS PORTLAND, on the occasion of Exponaval 2016, Chile.
Speech on board HMS PORTLAND, on the occasion of Exponaval 2016, Chile.

A ship arrived from Valparaiso, Dropped its anchor in the bay, Her name reminded me of kingdoms, Sunlit countries far away.

The poem – ‘The Ship’ tells of a dream of coming to this ‘awesome city’, of Valparaiso by ‘the sea of peace eternal’. And we thank the Armada de Chile for inviting us here to Exponaval, in the Valparaiso region.

Several ships have dropped their anchor here in Valparaiso for Exponaval. Chile’s ships. Ships from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and of course we are delighted that HMS Portland and RFA Gold Rover are here in a true spirit of international co-operation. And thank you to Vice-Admiral Ben Key, Fleet Commander, for leading the representation of our Royal Navy here; and to Captain Paul Stroude, and his crew, for hosting us tonight on this magnificent reception on HMS Portland. We hope that when you return to the UK you will help promote this sunlit country of Chile and the great opportunities to build links, both naval links, but also maritime and general business links.

And we have seen and heard at this excellent exhibition Exponaval 2016 – the largest naval and maritime fair in Latin America – of some of the many opportunities. New directions taken by our Navies in combating some of the challenges of a changing world; new technology and innovation that helps transform both our ships, but also how we train and operate our armed forces; and more broadly in Trans-Port 2016 the transformation of port infrastructure in accommodating ever larger ships; and how we also make shipping – whether naval or maritime – more energy efficient for a sustainable future for us all.

Both Chile and the UK are great maritime nations; much of the history, culture, and prosperity of both countries is defined by the sea. For the UK 95% of our trade in goods comes across the sea and through our ports. The sea is vital for our economy. And our Royal Navy, plays a vital role in the world, both in ensuring security, and protection of our peoples, and also in enabling trade to happen in a globalised world.

And these themes are important too, for Chile. Indeed much of the history of this city of Valparaiso is connected with the Armada de Chile, and also with free trade and globalisation.

And today for both our countries, the position we take in a globalised world is ever more important. A world that is changing. In security terms, in prosperity terms and with regard to our global environment. Many people have also asked me about Brexit. The Government has stated that Brexit will happen. This creates new opportunities for relationships and we look forward to building on those opportunities in links between the UK and Chile.

Key to all of this is innovation. Innovation in building our economies. Innovation in ideas. Innovation in technology. And we have seen some of that innovation and advanced technology at this Exponaval. For the UK we look at how we can harness some of innovation as a maritime nation – both in our port and infrastructure and shipping; and also in our defence industry.

The UK’s marine and defence industries have a strength and vibrancy built on a global outlook, an expertise in advanced engineering and the ability to adapt and innovate. Underpinned by an innovative and comprehensive academic and corporate research and development base. Design and development expertise, risk management, energy efficiency, manufacturing, shipbuilding, systems integration, and through life support are just some of the areas where the UK has a leading edge.

An example of innovation, highlighted in the conference today, by a Royal Navy speaker, is unmanned systems. In line with the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) direction on innovation and defence exports, the Royal Navy has been working with industry, academia and defence partners to explore and demonstrate the potential of maritime autonomous systems. A recent exercise ‘Unmanned Warrior’, off the coast of Scotland (and by the way today is St Andrew’s Day, the patron saint of Scotland) was the largest demonstration of its type – ever – involving 50 unmanned systems, and 40 organisations - an example of exploring innovation for capability options for the Navy of the future.

Also with regard to the Navy of the future, the UK is currently building the new aircraft carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince Of Wales. These will lead Britain’s Royal Navy, deploying in every ocean around the world over the next five decades. Innovation in design. Innovation in build. Innovation in size. And big ships require big berths. And that too requires innovation. A £120m investment has been made order to prepare Portsmouth dockyard for the new 65 000 tonne carriers, a new base has just been opened, with power facilities, reinforcing 276 metres of jetty, with 3300 tonnes of new steel work, installing new navigation lights and other new infrastructure, and dredging the harbour – an area equivalent to over 200 football pitches.

This week Defence Minister Fallon has received an important report on our future shipbuilding strategy – the review by Sir John Parker, Chairman of Anglo American – a well known company name here in Chile. An independent report with far reaching recommendations to transform the UK shipbuilding industry, and boost the prosperity of shipyards and supply chains across the country. This will inform the government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy, to be published in Spring 2017.

More broadly innovation is important. in how we run our armed forces and defence industries. 2015 saw the major National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review. This highlighted that our national security depends on our economic security and vice versa. It includes how we ensure our Armed Forces deal with modern and evolving threats. Threats for all of us are changing. For example, innovation is needed to combat threats from cyber, where the UK is also making major investment in skills, technology, and expertise.

And these challenges are shared challenges; not just for single countries; but like minded friends can build links, exchange ideas and share approaches in this ever changing world.

A world that is also one of environmental change. Sustainability and energy issues have also been a feature of Exponaval and Trans-Port. Areas where the UK has ideas and approaches to offer. Areas important both in the defence world and for civil society.

Ultimately our world depends on the sea. The sea covers 70% of the world’s surface and is essential in regulating global temperature, oxygen and water. Chile has shown great leadership in promoting ‘Our Ocean’ – the idea of a global ocean linking us all on which we depend for our food, our livelihoods and our planet. The President, in her speech yesterday to open Exponaval, as well as highlighting the Navy, and Trans-Port issues, also flagged the importance of Marine Protected Areas, and combating illegal fishing. We are pleased to have recently agreed with Chile a project using innovative technology through our Satellite Applications Catapult centre, to help combat illegal fishing – a global problem; and an important issue for Chile. In the UK, our Government Chief Scientific Advisor has just launched a ‘Foresight’ project on Future of the Sea, looking at the resources and the economic potential of the sea; environmental issues; and governance of the sea. Areas where we hope we can develop further links with Chile.

And the sea is deeply embedded in both our cultures. Chile’s national anthem celebrates this beautiful country as ‘Es la copia feliz del Eden’ – the wonderful copy of Eden and the importance of the sea in ‘Y ese mar que tranquilo te baña. Te promete un futuro esplendor’; and ‘The sea that tranquilly bathes your shores. Promises you a future splendour’. In Richard II Shakespeare talks of England as ‘this sceptred isle, this other Eden. This precious stone set in the silver sea’; and in The Tempest coined the phrase of ‘sea change’.

And so in the tempest of this changing world I would like to close by with a short 2 minute video, reflecting through modern culture, some of the sea change of maritime business and innovation of a Global Britain – Open for Business; and invite you to reflect both on Chile and the UK as maritime nations, and celebrate the wonderful work of both the Royal Navy and the Armada de Chile, and also would welcome your ideas of how the links between our two countries, across the sea, can be further strengthened.

30 November 2016.

Fiona Clouder, H M Ambassador to Chile.

Published 6 December 2016