UK pledges billions to deliver Dreadnought nuclear submarines

Boats form part of Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent and will enter service by the early 2030s

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 4, 2013 A picture shows the Trident Nuclear Submarine, HMS Victorious, on patrol off the west coast of Scotland. Russia's ambassador to Britain said on March 21, 2021 that diplomatic ties between the two countries were "nearly dead", after a UK strategic review this week branded Moscow an "acute direct threat". Andrei Kelin also criticised Britain's decision to bolster its nuclear stockpile, arguing the reversal of decades of policy was a violation of various international agreements.
 / AFP / Andy Buchanan

Britain has signed off on £2 billion ($2.5 billion) of spending as it seeks to deliver its new class of nuclear submarines known as Dreadnought.

The UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Monday said that defence contracts have been awarded to BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce to kick-start the delivery phase of the ambitious project.

The programme, first announced in 2016, will eventually deliver four new submarines for the Royal Navy as part of Britain's Trident nuclear arsenal.

The boats, which will be propelled by Rolls-Royce nuclear reactors, are being built by BAE at its base in Barrow-in-Furness in the north of England and will enter service in the early 2030s.

The project supports more than 30,000 jobs across the country, particularly in northern England, which the UK government has promised to “level up” as part of its plan to improve opportunities across the country.

The MoD has described the Dreadnought-class submarine as one of the “most complex machines ever built” and says each will have 26.4 miles of pipework and more than 20,000 cables stretching 215 miles — the distance between London and Leeds.

The Dreadnought-class boats have been designed to replace the older Vanguard models which came into service in the 1990s. The new submarines can potentially carry a dozen ballistic missiles containing up to eight nuclear warheads each.

Britain keeps at least one nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine patrolling the seas at all times under the Trident nuclear deterrent, which it uses to dissuade “extreme threats” to the UK.

“The Dreadnought Class will be crucial to maintaining and safeguarding our national security, with the nuclear deterrent protecting every UK citizen from the most extreme threats, every minute of every day”, Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said.

Last year, Britain and the US signed a deal with Australia to help it acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the so-called Aukus pact.

The Aukus deal led to a falling out with the French government which had previously agreed to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia in a deal worth €56 billion.

Updated: May 09, 2022, 3:25 PM