Babcock and the Submarine Delivery Agency (SDA) have signed an initial contract for the multi-year refit of the second of the UK’s Vanguard Class nuclear submarines, HMS Victorious. The initial full cost recovery agreement, which will be replaced with a contract on the same terms for the full programme before the end of the year, enables Babcock to begin deep maintenance of the complex submarine at its facility at Devonport. HMS Victorious plays a vital role in the UK’s continuous at sea deterrent. The refit programme will support around 1000 jobs in the local community and will see Babcock continue to build its workforce for delivering future submarine maintenance at Devonport.
SDA CEO Chris Gardner said “The completion of HMS Victorious’ Deep Maintenance Period is vital to supporting Defence’s highest priority. We look forward to working with Babcock to deliver the project on time to enable ongoing submarine availability and to continue to transform Devonport Naval Base into a Centre of Excellence for submarine deep maintenance.”
Babcock’s CEO Nuclear Dominic Kieran said “This is the result of a truly collaborative effort with the SDA. The work we do to support the Vanguard Class fleet, a vital part of the UK’s defence, has never been more important. The commercial framework we have agreed will ensure the retention of our skilled workforce, support future recruitment and enable us to focus on supporting the SDA in its drive to increase submarine availability.”
HMS Victorious carries the Trident ballistic missile, the UK’s nuclear deterrent. Victorious was built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd, later BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, was launched in September 1993, and commissioned in January 1995. She became the second of the class to refit, during which time she was fitted with a Core H reactor ensuring that the boat will not need to refuel again until the end of its service life. In 2008, she underwent sea trials before resuming patrols in 2009. In 2022, The submarine was not actively deployed on a continuous at-sea deterrent (CASD) patrol, but was instead en route to the United States for a series of exercises. Victorious subsequently returned to her homebase in Faslane, Scotland.
Submarine support is critical to the defence of the UK and requires specialist engineering skills and dedicated infrastructure. Babcock, the SDA and the Royal Navy are currently in discussions with the intention of finalising a long-term strategic partnership to ensure the stable, safe, effective and efficient delivery of deep and base maintenance of submarines. Expected to replace current commercial arrangements under the Future Maritime Support Programme, this would place Babcock on a similar footing to other key industrial partners, as part of a wider defence nuclear enterprise.