International innovator in marine autonomy and defence contractor, M Subs, which operates in both Texas, USA and Plymouth, has signed a lease agreement to expand business operations into the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport. 

M Subs design, build and operate crewed and un-crewed underwater vehicles and autonomous ships, including the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS). Late last year the company successfully secured a multi-million-pound contract with the Royal Navy to construct the service’s first crewless submarine under the project name ‘CETUS’.

Investing in a new build facility within the Freeport’s South Yard site at Devonport will enable M Subs to expand their business with new job creation and to better fulfil their obligations in their current stable of international defence market contracts including Project CETUS by being close to the water – the business has satisfied the stringent displacement and gateway policy which applies to all businesses considering operating within the Freeport.

Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison MP said:

“This announcement is really exciting for the Plymouth and South Devon area and will unlock new opportunities for growth and expansion. 

“It’s a great example of Freeports enabling private investment to drive innovation and job creation for local people, and demonstrates why they play such a key role in our levelling up agenda.”

Richard May, CEO, Plymouth and South Devon Freeport:

“It is a pleasure to welcome M Subs to the Freeport and we look forward to working with Brett Phaneuf and his team to support them with their ambitious plans for the future. The investment and innovation that M Subs bring to the Freeport, and local area, is a prime example of the opportunities that the Freeport can afford new and expanding businesses. 

We have a growing number of enquiries from business investors, particularly in the blue/green tech industries, who understand the value and potential of the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport and the local capability and ecosystem. We are seen by government as successful at bringing innovation to the forefront of the Freeport policy and announcements such as this only amplify our standing as a hotbed of innovation in our key sectors of marine, defence and the emerging space sector in the South West.”

One of the key objectives of the Freeport is job creation and upskilling for the local workforce. Creating a minimum of twenty new full-time jobs at the facility within the next three years, expansion into the Freeport supports M Subs’ 80 current employees and many hundreds of local jobs indirectly through additional supply chain opportunities and collaborations.

Brett Phaneuf, Managing Director, M Subs Ltd:

“M Subs Ltd continues to expand our global reach operating from our expanding base in Plymouth; our new facilities in the Freeport will allow us to accelerate growth in the market by creating a new operations and maintenance centre for our state-of-the-art uncrewed marine vehicles, coupled with our AI and Autonomy R&D Centre in Turnchapel Wharf.  M Subs is deeply committed to educating, training and maintaining the future talent in the City and the Freeport facilities will provide the necessary job growth to make that happen, and to keep Plymouth the centre of marine autonomy and engineering, in the UK.”

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Tudor Evans OBE said:

“This is exactly the sort of company we want to see in the Freeport. Clean, green and at the cutting edge of marine technology. This is a company making extraordinary advances under the ocean and want to expand.  This news means more skilled jobs for local people, it means more investment in other businesses through their supply chain – it’s great news for Plymouth.”

Brigadier Mike Tanner RM OBE ADC – Naval Base Commander Devonport:

“We are delighted to welcome M Subs into the Naval Base. It is great to work with them and the local community, as well as create opportunities for them to expand their capabilities in the growing autonomous maritime defence area.  I hope this is the beginning of building a hub for the Defence Maritime sector within the Naval Base, supporting the Royal Navy’s need for technological expertise/equipment whilst simultaneously creating civilian jobs and opportunity within the City of Plymouth.” 

Sister company Submergence Group LLC, based in Texas, is committing over a million pounds in foreign direct investment for M Subs to enable expansion into the Freeport. It is expected that this move will enable M Subs to import circa £5m in supporting technology over the next three years with an export value in excess of £50m over the next decade.

The Freeport is a dynamic public/private partnership with Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council working alongside Princess Yachts, Carlton Power, the Sherford Consortium and a wider range of stakeholders including Babcock, the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter, ABP (Associated British Ports), Cattewater Harbour Commissioners, skills providers and the Heart of the South West LEP to ensure its success.