Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has today announced a £400 million funding boost for the Dreadnought programme, as he opened a new training academy and revealed the name of the second Dreadnought submarine. Dreadnought is the replacement programme for the Royal Navy’s Trident missile Vanguard-class submarines, which form the UK’s nuclear deterrent. The UK Defence Secretary also revealed that the second Dreadnought nuclear-powered submarine will be named HMS Valiant. The first boat of the class is to be named Dreadnought. Construction started in late 2016 at the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard operated by BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines, when the first submarine was provisionally expected to enter service in 2028. The start of construction of the second phase was announced in May 2018.
The Dreadnought class is the future replacement for the Vanguard class of ballistic missile submarines. Like their predecessors they will carry Trident II D-5 missiles. The Vanguard submarines entered service in the United Kingdom in the 1990s with an intended service life of 25 years. Their replacement is necessary if the Royal Navy is to maintain a continuous at-sea deterrent (CASD), the principle of operation behind the Trident system. At 152.9m (501ft) long and 17,200-tonne, the new boats will be three metres longer than their V-boat predecessors, but displace 1,300 more tonnes. Dreadnought is also due to be fitted with a new lighting system which can imitate night and day – making it easier for crew to get used to normal life after three months submerged. There will be nearly 13,000 electrical items aboard and 20,000 pieces of cable stretching 215 miles.
The planned funding release, which supports the building phase of the programme, came as the Defence Secretary unveiled a £25 million BAE Systems academy that will upskill employees to work on Royal Navy submarines for the next two decades. The £400 million investment will safeguard more than 8,000 jobs in Barrow and across the UK, which are all supported by the £31billion Dreadnought programme and supply chain. The latest investment is part of the £31bn Dreadnought programme and supply chain. The latest investment comes after £960 million worth of contracts were announced in May to ramp up the current phase of construction for the UK’s four nuclear-armed Dreadnought submarines.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Next year marks half-a-century since British nuclear-armed submarines began patrolling the waters in response to the danger posed by the Cold War – and the world is again facing a raft of intensifying threats. This £400m investment will ensure the Dreadnought programme remains on track, so we continue to have a nuclear deterrent at sea for decades to come. Not only does today’s news see us safeguard 8,000 jobs right now, but I have also opened a brand new multi-million-pound facility to train Britain’s submarine engineers of the future.”
Williamson unveiled a £25m BAE Systems’ ‘Submarine Academy for Skills and Knowledge’ in Barrow-in-Furness as part of the announcement. The Submarine Academy for Skills and Knowledge will provide around 2,500 people a month – including 600 apprentices from across industry and the Ministry of Defence – with invaluable skills and training to benefit the work carried out on the Dreadnought and Astute submarine programmes. Today’s funding announcement comes a year after the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which set out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It demonstrates how defence is building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.