£2bn-plus to boost next phase of Dreadnought submarine programme

Defence contracts worth more than £2bn have been awarded to BAE and Rolls-Royce to begin the third phase in the development of the UK's next-generation nuclear deterrent.

The Dreadnought programme will replace the four submarines that currently provide the UK's Trident nuclear missile continuous-at-sea deterrent.

It will see four new submarines, built in the UK, introduced from the 2030s, with a lifespan of about 30 years.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said delivery phase three will see the first of the four new submarines, HMS Dreadnought, leave the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard in Cumbria to begin sea trials.

The head of the Royal Navy, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key, said: "We welcome the faith shown in the Royal Navy and our people that submarines remain the optimum means of securely deploying the independent nuclear deterrent.

Watch: Exclusive – how do you dismantle a nuclear submarine?

"This investment will enable the transition from the Vanguard to Dreadnought-class submarines – an enormous challenge, and one we in the Royal Navy willingly accept."

The MOD also said the contract is an initial investment within a planned overall total of nearly £10bn for the whole third phase of delivery.

The Dreadnought class submarines will be the largest class of submarine ever built for the Royal Navy and "one of the most complex machines ever built", according to the MOD.

An £160m contract has also been awarded to Raytheon UK to support the training and development of Royal Navy personnel at HM Naval Base Clyde, in Scotland, which will crew the HMS Dreadnought when it enters service, expected to be in the early 2030s.

Defence minister Jeremy Quin said: "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.

Watch: Royal Navy's next attack submarine completes major milestone.

"Designed in the UK, built in the UK and supporting tens of thousands of jobs in the UK, the Dreadnought programme is a leading example of our commitment to defence manufacturing and will continue to boost British industry for decades to come," Mr Quin said.

Steve Timms, managing director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: "Today's funding announcement allows us to maintain the Dreadnought programme's progress and continue investing in the infrastructure and skills needed to deliver these highly complex submarines to the Royal Navy."

President of Rolls-Royce Submarines, Steve Carlier, said: "This latest contract is a welcome sign of the UK's ongoing commitment to the submarines enterprise and all the jobs around the UK that support it."

The Government says the overall programme, from design to build, will support about 30,000 jobs across the country.

It said that last year alone it supported about 13,500 jobs in the northwest of England and a further 16,300 in the rest of the UK.

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