Construction work will start on the UK’s new nuclear submarines, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has announced, as he unveiled nearly £1.3 billion of new investment with BAE Systems.
The Successor project will now move into the next stage, known as ‘Delivery Phase 1’, with manufacturing work beginning on structural steel work for the ‘auxiliary machine space’ of the first submarine: this contains switchboards and control panels for the reactor. The money will also be spent furthering the design of the submarine, purchasing materials and long lead items, and investing in facilities at the BAE Systems yard in Barrow-in-Furness where the submarines will be built.
As part of our £178 billion equipment plan, the programme will be supported by a defence budget that will rise every year until the end of the decade, meeting the NATO commitment to spend two per cent of GDP on defence.
At a ceremonial event at the BAE Systems yard – the home of British submarine construction – next week, Mr Fallon will begin the work with a ‘steel cut’. Several hundreds of suppliers are expected to be involved in the programme at its peak, almost 85 per cent of those based across the UK – securing jobs from Scotland to the South of England.
The investment will support delivery of the manifesto commitment on which this Government was elected, to retain the Trident-based continuous at sea deterrent – the ultimate guarantee of our safety –and build the new fleet of four Successor Ballistic Missile submarines: securing thousands of highly skilled jobs in the UK.
That commitment was underlined in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review and supported decisively by an overwhelming majority in Parliament on 18 July 2016, sending a strong message to the hundreds of companies involved in the submarine supply chain that they – and their tens of thousands of employees across the country – can keep planning for the future.
While visiting the BAE Systems site, the Defence Secretary will meet with the apprentices and shipyard workers who will build the UK’s cutting-edge deterrent capability. Mr Fallon will also tour the Devonshire Dock Hall where Audacious, Anson and Agamemnon, the fourth, fifth and sixth of seven Astute class nuclear-powered submarines, are currently under construction.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
“Britain’s ballistic missile submarines are the ultimate guarantee of our nation’s safety – we use them every day to deter the most extreme threats.
We cannot know what new dangers we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s so we are acting now to replace them.
Along with increasing the defence budget to buy new ships, planes and armoured vehicles, this shows that this Government will never gamble with our national security.”