The Science Minister, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, followed the naming of the Royal Research Ship Discovery with a speech to an audience, including research leaders from across the UK marine science community, together with representatives from industry and government. It was the Minister’s first visit to NOC and he said that he was proud to be here on such an historic day.
The Minister said that the recent publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is a reminder of just how important UK marine science is. He said that we can be proud that Britain is in the lead in this area and, looking at international rankings, it was clear that UK oceanographic research is of a very high standard.
RRS Discovery was delivered on budget and to deadline, and Mr Willetts described the Government’s investment in the vessel as “money very well spent”. He congratulated the team responsible for overseeing the procurement and build on delivering what he said was “a model of how these things should be managed.”
The Minister remarked that technological advances drive science and that science drives technological innovation. He has written about the Eight Great Technologies where the UK has a comparative advantage and which are crucial to the UK’s future competitiveness. Autonomy and robotics is one of these technologies and the Minister reminded guests that a further £10 million investment in this area had recently been announced.
The Minister also pointed out that the capital budget for 2014-15 had gone above £1 billion and would be protected at that level until 2020.
Mr Willetts closed by saying that he hoped that this investment would help continue what he described as “great science”.
NOC, October 14, 2013