An update on Britain’s ballistic missile submarine project


The Dreadnought ballistic missile submarine programme is proceeding according to plan, with the First of Class, HMS Dreadnought, expected to enter service in the early 2030s and within the overall budget.

In May 2022, the Ministry of Defence announced the initiation of the most significant phase of the programme, known as Delivery Phase Three (DP3), which involves contracts worth over £2 billion awarded to BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce Submarines.

This initial investment is within a planned total of nearly £10 billion for the entire delivery phase.

DP3, say the Ministry of Defence, will involve Dreadnought departing from the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard for sea trials and will provide the groundwork for delivering the remaining three Dreadnought Class submarines on time and within budget.

As previously announced, all 12 missile tubes for Dreadnought have been successfully delivered to the BAE Systems Barrow shipyard, and they have now been integrated with the relevant parts of the pressure hull to form the missile compartment unit, a significant milestone in the programme’s delivery.

The MoD say that they are working closely with their United States counterparts to ensure timely missile tube deliveries for the remaining submarines.

Significant progress has been made across various activities in the Dreadnought programme, including the maturation of the whole boat design, the procurement of materials and equipment for the Class, the outfitting of modules for Dreadnought, the fabrication of the steelwork for Boat 2, Valiant, and the concluding investments in the shipyard infrastructure facilities at Barrow.

Rolls-Royce has made significant progress on the Pressurised Water Reactor 3 project, which will provide the nuclear propulsion power plants for all four submarines.

Finally, the MoD say that they are progressing with procuring materials and other activities to support cut steel for Boat 3, Warspite, and later, Boat 4, King George VI.

The above information was mostly gathered from the annual report on the programme. A copy can be found here: ‘The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent’.

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