BAE Systems has marked the start of construction of the third Dreadnought Class submarine, Warspite, at its shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Warspite is the third of four Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarines being designed and built by BAE Systems. Due to enter service from the early 2030s, the boats will carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent and be the biggest, most powerful and technically advanced submarines ever delivered to the Royal Navy. Construction of the first two boats, Dreadnought and Valiant, is already well underway. BAE Systems Submarines makes a significant contribution to the UK economy, supporting more than 11,000 jobs, the vast majority of which are in Barrow-in-Furness, in the north west of England. The business is continuing to grow its workforce and this year it expects to recruit more than 2,000 new employees.
Attending today’s ceremony, Defence Procurement Minister Alex Chalk KC MP, said: “Our nuclear deterrent protects every UK citizen from the most extreme threats, every minute of every day and progress on the Dreadnought Class is crucial to maintaining our national security. This milestone is a significant step forward in the Dreadnought programme, supporting thousands of jobs and apprenticeships across the country and protecting the UK and our allies for decades to come.”
Steve Timms, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Submarines business, said: “Today’s milestone is a really significant moment for the thousands of employees here at BAE Systems and across the submarines enterprise who are working together to deliver the Dreadnought Class. We are immensely proud of the role we play in delivering this truly national endeavour for the Royal Navy and our contribution to protecting national security.”
In addition, a record number of apprentices and graduates will join the business with more than 800 roles available in 2023. This early careers population will learn their trade working on one of the world’s most complex engineering programmes. Over the life of the Dreadnought programme, an estimated £7.5 billion will be spent with UK suppliers, supporting upwards of 11,800 jobs in the supply chain. Alongside the Dreadnought Class, BAE Systems is delivering seven Astute Class hunter killer submarines, four of which are in-service with the Royal Navy. Design and concept work is also underway on the Submersible Ship Nuclear Replacement (SSNR) programme, the eventual replacement to the Astute Class.
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. Provisionally named “Successor” (being the successor to the Vanguard class SSBNs), it was officially announced in 2016 that the first of class would be named Dreadnought, and that the class would be the Dreadnought class. The next three boats will be called Valiant, Warspite and King George VI.