BAE Systems has been awarded a £1.5bn contract for delivery of the seventh Astute-class nuclear-powered fleet submarine and a further £900m for the next phase of the Dreadnought ballistic missile submarine programme.
The Secretary of State for Defence, The Right Honourable Gavin Williamson, announced these contracts during a visit to the Company’s submarine site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
During his visit, the Defence Secretary named the seventh and final submarine in the Astute class as Agincourt. He also formally opened a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, marking the latest development in a major infrastructure investment programme at the Company’s Barrow site. Certain phases of construction for the Dreadnought class will take place at the new Central Yard Facility, which includes production, workshop and office facilities, measuring 180m long, 90m wide and 44m high.
Construction on the first of four new Dreadnought submarines started in October 2016 and this latest funding will support ongoing design and build activities, procurement of materials and investment in new and existing facilities for a further 12 months.
The Defence Secretary said: “This multi-billion-pound investment in our nuclear submarines shows our unwavering commitment to keeping the UK safe and secure from intensifying threats. HMS Agincourt will complete the Royal Navy’s seven-strong fleet of hunter-killer attack subs, the most powerful to ever enter British service, whilst our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate defence against the most extreme dangers we could possibly face.
“Not only is this a massive boost for our armed forces, but it’s huge for Barrow, the heart of sub-building in this country. Today’s news supports around 8,000 BAE Systems submarine jobs, as well as thousands more in the supply chain, protecting prosperity and providing opportunity right across the country.”
Cliff Robson, BAE Systems Submarines Managing Director, said: “Securing this latest funding for our submarines programmes is excellent news for BAE Systems and the 8,700 people in our Submarines business, as well as our local community in Barrow and the thousands of people across our UK supply chain who help deliver these nationally important programmes for the Royal Navy.
“We continue to make progress on these highly complex and technical programmes and today’s announcements will allow us to move forward with greater certainty and stability.”
The first three submarines in the Astute class – HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful – are already in service with the Royal Navy. Earlier funding allowed us to start work on the seventh submarine in 2014, while the fourth, fifth and sixth submarines are also under various stages of construction in Barrow having been previously awarded full contracts. At 97m long and displacing more than 7,400 tonnes, they are the largest and most powerful nuclear-powered attack submarines ever built for the Royal Navy.
Dreadnought is the programme to replace the four Vanguard class submarines, which carry the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent. Once built, they will measure 153.6m long, with a displacement of 17,200 tonnes. They are being delivered by the newly-formed Dreadnought Alliance, a joint management team established between the MOD, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.
The delivery of the Astute and Dreadnought programmes is a national endeavour with a supply base spanning the length and breadth of the UK. In 2017 alone, BAE Systems spent around £700m with more than 700 suppliers.
To support the build of Dreadnought, the Barrow site is undergoing major redevelopment that will provide a range of new and upgraded capabilities, including an extension to the Devonshire Dock Hall, a 28,000m2 off-site logistics facility and a 8,000m2 Central Training Facility as well as the recently completed Central Yard Facility.