The first image of Britain’s next generation of nuclear-armed submarines has been revealed following an £80m deal with BAE Systems for development work.
The final decision to build the “Successor” class of submarines to carry the UK’s Trident nuclear missiles has not yet been made by Parliament, but the Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday announced the deal with BAE for work on certain essential systems.
The MoD awarded BAE two contracts worth £47m and £32m respectively to begin developing structural fittings, electrical equipment, castings and forgings, which must be started now to retain the option of replacing the current Vanguard-class submarines when they reach the end of their life in 2028.
Defence secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement: ‘This £79m investment is another important milestone in our preparations to build these world leading submarines.
The current Vanguard Class of deterrent submarines perform a vital role in the defence of the UK and the replacement for this capability is of national importance.
The Successor programme is supporting around 2,000 jobs and up to 850 British businesses could benefit from the supply chain as we exploit the most modern technologies, and employ a significant portion of the UK’s engineers, project managers and technicians over the coming years.’
The MoD said the new submarines, which would also be powered by nuclear reactors, would be some of the stealthiest in the world and the design and build programme would be among the most complex ever undertaken by British industry.
If Parliament approves the programme after the next election, it would support up to 6,000 jobs at its peak and, once complete, would enable the UK to maintain a continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent until the 2060s.
BAE Systems has already received contracts worth a total of £643m to design the submarine at its marine base in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria.
Tony Johns, managing director of BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines, said: ‘The design of a nuclear-powered submarine is incredibly complex and we continue to make good progress in the engineering phase of the programme.
‘The first submarine is due to be in service by 2028, so to achieve that target it’s essential we begin the procurement process now to ensure we can start construction on time.’
BAE said it was well into the third year of a five-year design and development phase with Rolls Royce and Babcock, during which the submarine’s concept design and operational requirements are being matured into a detailed design.
Over 2,000 people are currently employed on the project and the company said it planned to recruit over 540 additional employees next year, including 240 apprentices.