Systems update

The government has awarded a £300m contract to Babcock Marine for the refit of its strategic missile submarine, HMS Vigilant.

The government has awarded a £300m contract to Babcock Marine for the refit of its strategic missile submarine, HMS Vigilant.

The 16,000-tonne submarine will be kitted with an updated weapons system and a new nuclear reactor core over a period of three and a half years at Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth. At peak construction, the work is expected to secure 1,000 jobs in the dockyard and a further 1,000 across the industry.

Defence secretary, John Hutton, said: ‘The highly sophisticated nature of the work involved is testament to the experience and skills of the workforce here in Devonport and is the latest in a steady stream of packages to be carried out in the dedicated submarine refit facilities here.

‘Both HMS Victorious and HMS Turbulent have recently left Devonport following successful overhauls, with HMS Triumph making progress in her maintenance period as we speak.’

Babcock will provide the Long Overhaul Period and Refuel (LOP[R]) work, which will include the refuel and reactor commissioning, a major revalidation of all reactor systems, replacement of major equipment and tactical and strategic weapons updates. Rolls-Royce will supply the submarine’s new reactor core.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) chief of materiel fleet, Vice-Admiral Trevor Soar, said: ‘The major overhaul will furnish Vigilant with the latest reactor core, as used in the new Astute class submarines, fuelling her for life. Several other important updates to both her self-defence systems and her Trident missile system are also included, significantly updating the combat ability of this 21st century warship.’

HMS Vigilant is the third Vanguard class submarine to undergo LOP(R) at Devonport. According to Babcock, the project will involve more than 2.2 million man hours. Total work, including the planning phase, is expected to take five years with the submarine to remain on dry dock until 2011 and completed by 2012.