BAE Systems welcomed the Right Honorable Sir Michael Fallon MP, Secretary of State for Defense to Barrow-in-Furness shipyard to press a button, commencing the first metal-cut for the Successor program.
The secretary of State's visit follows a recent U.K. Government commitment of £1.3 billion funding for the Successor Submarine program on October 1. This program will deliver four new submarines for the Royal Navy and will replace the current Vanguard class, with the first submarine entering service in the early 2030s. The U.K. MOD funding announced today will cover initial manufacturing work, which will start next week, on the first of the Trident ballistic-missile-carrying submarines. It will also enable further procurement of long lead items in addition to ongoing redevelopment of the facilities and infrastructure required to build the submarines at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
Comparable in size to the Vanguard class submarines, the next generation of nuclear deterrent submarine is widely considered to be one of the world's most complex engineering challenges. Technological advances, threat changes, new methods of design and production mean the new submarines will be a completely new design.
Fallon said, “Britain’s ballistic missile submarines are the ultimate guarantee of our nation’s safety – we use them every day to deter the most extreme threats. We cannot know what new dangers we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s so we are acting now to replace them.”
Tony Johns, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, added, "This additional financial investment by the MOD is an expression of confidence in our ability to build these sophisticated vessels. We have been designing the new class of submarine for more than five years and thanks to the maturity of our design, we're now in a position to start production on the date we set back in 2011.”
The company and the MOD have also made significant investments in the Barrow site's operating systems, facilities and skills to prepare for the manufacturing phase of the Successor program. The continued redevelopment of the site will transform the way submarines are built and will include new facilities and the refurbishment of existing infrastructure to ensure it has the capacity needed to deliver the Successor program.
The Successor program already employs more than 2,600 people across MOD and industry, including 1,800 at BAE Systems. Thousands more will be employed in the supply chain with an average of 7,800 people expected to be working on Successor each year throughout the duration of the program. At peak, in the early 2020s, BAE Systems anticipates employing more than 5,000 people on the Successor program.
To date, BAE Systems has worked with more than 100 suppliers, 85 percent of whom are based in the U.K. The total spend in the supply chain is anticipated to reach between £8-9 billion, with in excess of 350 suppliers in the submarines’ build program.