Minister gives approval to next stage of new N-subs
By Plymouth Herald | Monday, October 29, 2012, 05:30
MINISTERS have signalled their commitment to the next generation of nuclear-armed submarines, which promise to safeguard thousands of city jobs.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was today due to announce an extra £350million in funding for the next stage of design work on the vessels.
They will replace the four ageing Vanguard-class submarines which currently carry the Trident missiles.
The plans have major implications for the city. Devonport is the UK's only base with the specialist facilities and skilled workforce needed to maintain the current and future n-sub fleet.
The Vanguard submarines will be replaced from 2028 by the new vessels, which are being designed by British firms.
As a result of the latest funding, defence industry giant Babcock, which owns Devonport Dockyard, will press ahead with an additional £38million worth of work. It follows on from £350million in design contracts announced earlier this year, of which Babcock netted £15million.
The move is likely to put a further strain on the coalition Government. The Tories' Lib Dem partners are currently undertaking a review into whether there are cheaper alternatives to building the new missile-carrying vessels.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence has revealed that one of the Vanguard submarines, HMS Vigilant, successfully fired an unarmed Trident ballistic missile during a test launch in the Atlantic Ocean last week.
It claimed the exercise, the first in three years, confirmed the credibility of the deterrent.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "Our continuous submarine-based nuclear deterrent is the ultimate safeguard of our national security and the Government is committed to maintaining it, both now and in the future.
"The test firing and further investment in replacing the deterrent demonstrates that commitment.
"This latest expenditure for the next generation of nuclear-armed submarines is an investment in UK security and the British economy, sustaining high-quality jobs and vital skills."
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope added: "The Royal Navy has for more than 43 years continuously operated the UK's nuclear deterrent to stringent safety standards."