UK Export Finance (UKEF) announced that they will provide £5 million in support for a Wirral-based specialist manufacturer of boats serving search and rescue, defence, and security sectors.

Marine Specialised Technology Group (MST) designs, manufactures and maintains rigid-hulled inflatable and high-speed workboats for use worldwide.

Through UKEF’s General Export Facility (GEF) scheme, MST received a £5 million loan from NatWest bank. This working capital means that MST can access the bond lines and advanced payment guarantees it needed to win new, high-value contracts in Ireland and Italy, the latter of which is a new market for the manufacturer. Entry into the Italian market – one of Europe’s major shipbuilding economies – is a significant achievement for the business.

Opening the 2023 SeaWork Commercial Marine Exhibition in Southampton – the largest event of its kind in Europe – Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade Nusrat Ghani said, “Shipbuilding is an integral part of the UK’s industrial heritage, which is why we want to create more investment and export opportunities in the sector.

“We are proud to have worked with UKEF to provide MST with the financial backing to win major new contracts across Europe, helping to create jobs, pay higher wages and grow the economy.”

The UKEF support also enabled contracts with major Dutch shipbuilder Damen Group to supply boats for naval frigates which Damen Naval is building. MST’s contribution will include ‘Fast Raiding, Intervention and Special Forces Craft’ and ‘Integrated Logistics Support’ packages.

Ben Kerfoot, Managing Director of Marine Specialised Technology Group, said, “UKEF’s support has been absolutely vital in our recent successes and growth as a business. Since receiving support from UKEF, we have been able to win contracts we never would have been able to consider before and enter new markets. It’s an incredibly exciting time for MST and we’re looking forward to the future.”

The GEF financing was supplied through NatWest bank.

Ian McGee, Relationship Director at NatWest, said, “We’re delighted to have been able to support MST to access the right funding package to facilitate their growth ambitions. It’s a fantastic UK success story to see them winning high-value contracts in overseas markets from their base in the Wirral and I look forward to continuing to work with all of the team at MST and supporting the business to thrive.”

Launched by UKEF in 2021, the GEF product provides exporters with access to flexible financing and has already unlocked over £180 million of working capital loans to UK businesses – 92% of which has gone to small and medium enterprises like MST.

This is just one example of how government support for a range of manufacturers – including boat-builders like MST as well as large ship-yards – is helping to realise the National Shipbuilding Strategy target of a 45% increase in UK marine engineering exports between 2022 and 2030. In September 2022, UKEF similarly provided £3 million in support to Parkol Marine Engineering, a family-owned shipbuilding business based in Yorkshire, to help it secure exporting opportunities in Ireland.