2019 marks the 50th anniversary of always being a Royal Navy Ballistic Missile Submarine at sea, providing the nation’s deterrent and ensuring the UK remains safe.
Last week, Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson MP, again committed to retaining the continuous at sea nuclear deterrent to provide the ultimate guarantee of our safety, as long as the global security situation makes that necessary.
The Dreadnought submarines are set to replace the Vanguard Class in the 2030s and will have a lifespan of at least 30 years.
Commenting, Christopher Pincher MP said: “I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the hundreds of brave submariners who have ensured the continuation of our nuclear deterrent over the last 50 years and to ultimately the safety of the UK. Our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate guarantee of our security in the current threat environment and in face of increasing Russian aggression, which continues to undermine Euro-Atlantic security and the rules-based international order, our nuclear deterrent is more important than ever.
We cannot relax our guard: it would be irresponsible to assume that the UK will not need its nuclear deterrence in the foreseeable future. It would be wrong to leave Britain open to nuclear blackmail. I was incredibly disappointed to see the SNP vote against this anniversary debate. While they are opposed to the nuclear deterrent, they should have the decency to thank our submariners who have continuously devoted themselves to protect all citizens across Great Britain, including Scotland. Interestingly the SNP have argued for an independent Scotland to join the nuclear defence alliance NATO illustrating a contradiction at the heart of their defence policy.”
Nuclear deterrent at sea
The United Kingdom is currently defended at sea by four Vanguard-class submarines. The Vanguard-class is a class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in service with the Royal Navy. The class was introduced in 1994 as part of the Trident nuclear programme and includes four boats: HMS Vanguard, HMS Victorious, HMS Vigilant and HMS Vengeance.
On 4 December 2006, then Prime Minister Tony Blair revealed plans to spend up to £20 billion on a new generation of ballistic missile submarines to replace the Vanguard-class.
On 18 May 2011, the British government approved the initial assessment phase for the construction of a new class of four submarines. This new class of submarine, now known as the Dreadnought-class, will retain the current Trident II missiles and will incorporate a new ‘PWR3’ nuclear reactor as well as technology developed for the Astute-class nuclear-powered fleet submarines of the Royal Navy.
The first Dreadnought-class submarine will be named HMS Dreadnought, the second will be named HMS Valiant and the third named HMS Warspite. The name of the fourth submarine is as yet undecided.
Construction of HMS Dreadnought began in 2016 at BAE Systems Submarines in Barrow-in-Furness and is expected to be completed by the early 2030’s for a cost of £31 billion. The Submarines will have an intended service life of around 35-40 years, an increase of around 25% over the previous class