Despite a previous delay due to a ‘quality shortfall’, all 12 missile tubes for nuclear submarine HMS Dreadnought have now been delivered.

An excerpt from a yearly progress report from the Ministry of Defence says:

“Key staged investments made during financial year 2020-21 have allowed good progress to continue with the whole boat design and the construction process. These commitments have enabled the construction of the first two boats of the Class (DREADNOUGHT and VALIANT) to progress, with further investment in the shipyard facilities, and to procure materials and equipment for the Class. Rolls-Royce Submarines continue to make good progress with the manufacture of the nuclear propulsion power plants, the Pressurised Water Reactor 3, for all four Dreadnought submarines. The procurement on long lead items and other early work for the remaining submarines in the Class, WARSPITE and KING GEORGE VI, continues in line with the overall programme schedule.

As previously reported, production and delivery of the Missile Tubes (MT) to form part of the Common Missile Compartment have been subject to quality shortfalls across the supply chain resulting in their delayed delivery. All 12 missile tubes for HMS DREADNOUGHT have now been delivered to the BAE Systems Barrow shipyard, a significant milestone in the delivery of the programme. We continue to support our United States (US) colleagues in working with their US and UK suppliers to ensure future missile tube deliveries continue in a timely manner to support the Dreadnought programme.”

You can read more of the progress report by clicking here or by clicking the link below.

An update on the Dreadnought nuclear submarine programme

When will the submarine enter service?

The Defence Secretary recently confirmed that first of class nuclear missile submarine HMS Dreadnought is “on track” for delivery in the early 2030s.

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, asked:

“What progress is being made on the development of the Dreadnought class nuclear submarine; and when he plans for the first of that class to enter service.”

Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence, responded:

“The 2020 annual update to Parliament on the United Kingdom’s future nuclear deterrent provides progress details on the Dreadnought submarine programme. The programme, underpinned by around 30,000 defence nuclear enterprise jobs across the United Kingdom, remains on track to deliver the first of class in the early 2030s. The programme will sustain thousands of jobs across the United Kingdom, including in Scotland.”

Avatar photo
George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also previously worked for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

42 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Steeper
David Steeper
1 year ago

Vanguard will be 30 years old when Dreadnought enters service so inflation accounts for most of the increase in cost.When you add in latest tech and presumably noise reduction it’s a pretty good deal.

Deep32
Deep32
1 year ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Why would you? The nuclear deterrent is exactly that. Putting VLS tubes on it for TLAM strikes would potentially compromise it’s primary aim ie to remain undetected on the off chance you might need to launch some Tridents.
The range difference between both missiles is some 5500 nm, that’s a lot of ocean to hide in, which is why we don’t fit VLS to Trident SSBNs.

David
David
1 year ago
Reply to  Deep32

Not knowing anything about this myself. But, the errors introduced also seem alarming in mixing TLAM with Trident.

Deep32
Deep32
1 year ago
Reply to  David

Hi David,
It’s two totally separate mission sets. One is surgical strike – TLAM, the other is Armageddon if you will – Trident. Never shall the two roles be mixed together.
SSBNs which carry Trident missiles, sail and effectively hide away in the ocean waiting in case they are needed. We have been conducting these patrols since the late 60’s – Continuous At Sea Deterrent – CASD.
SSNs conduct our seaborne long range strike function using Tube Launched Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, as well as ASW/ASuW operations.

Marked
Marked
1 year ago
Reply to  David Steeper

That would be insanity, betraying the position of the nuclear deterrent by launching tomahawks?

That’s a job for attack boats, and yes launch tubes should be included on the Astute successor.

Knight7572
Knight7572
1 year ago

yeah the Columbias have less than the ohios

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 year ago
Reply to  Knight7572

And they can carry a tonne of cocaine as well 😂

Last edited 1 year ago by Nigel Collins
Tommo
Tommo
1 year ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Damn you beat me too that little sideline

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 year ago
Reply to  Tommo

LOL

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 year ago

Much more important than the number of tubes (armageddon remains their payload) is the fact that they are the world’s first stealth submarines, and will be exceptionally hard to find. https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2021/11/first-submarine-to-use-new-stealth-technology/

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 year ago

This is good news, last I heard the US was putting off releasing funding for their development prioritizing other projects so they were running substantially late. They are being 90% funded by the US and 10% by the UK reflecting the balance of planned orders.

Last edited 1 year ago by Watcherzero
DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
1 year ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Where did you hear this? The Columbia submarine program is the top US Navy program and the US Navy has told the Congress that it will be funded even if it is at the expense of other Navy programs. In the DOD budget just passed, the Congress increased funding for both the Columbia and Virginia programs. The US Navy is not holding back any funds and will, with the new budget authorization, be able to increase funding.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 year ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Report to Congress on Columbia-class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program – USNI News Program has been rebased several times to incorporate delays by moving the schedule back rather than attempting to catch up (e.g. ordering components in 2021 that were supposed to have been ordered in 2019), also forecasting a budget deficit of $700m per boat, risk assessment has a 48% confidence that the lead boat is delivered on budget and a 51% chance that boats 2-12 are. The experts have been recommending since 2016 that the Common Missile Compartment is purchased as a block buy but they have resisted and… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Watcherzero
Joe16
Joe16
1 year ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Are you suggeting that our SSBN replacement programme is actually going more smoothly than America’s…?
I hesitate to even bring it up in public, even though I fundamentally don’t believe jynx-ing really is a thing.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe16

By the looks so far yes, all the US submarine programs are a mess at the moment, the Virginia construction is behind schedule and struggling to maintain the minimum fleet size with planned retirements and the scandal about an individual falsifying submarine steel testing results has snowballed, last month she pled guilty to falsifying the results for 270 batches of submarine hull castings over a 20 year period, and in 2019 Huntingdon Ingalls admitted it had been falsifying test and training records for the submarine adhesive coatings (staff wernt trained in how to properly mix up and apply a 2… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Watcherzero
Jonathan
Jonathan
1 year ago

My only problem with this is are the 12 missiles silos, now I know at present the CASD only carries 8 missiles and 40 warheads. But I’m not really sure this is an appropriate deterrent against a very aggressive nuclear power, with a very large land mass like Russia. The US did a study on what would a finite deterrent look like ( the ability to harm the Soviet Union to the point it would not be willing to chance) back in the 60s and Came up with around 400 warheads. So I do worry that our Deterrent for a… Read more »

Marked
Marked
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I agree, I’d rather have 16 tubes even if the current plan is not to use them all. Better to have them available so the option to increase the load is available if the world situation deteriorates. Typical MOD and UK government strategy though, penny pinch in the short term and ignore the long term consequence.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 year ago
Reply to  Marked

The tubes can be used for other things such as equipment and divers, thinking is it may in future carry a drone.

Deep32
Deep32
1 year ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

No mate, they really can’t be used for anything else other then missiles!!

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 year ago
Reply to  Deep32

Except the same tubes are used for other things on the SSGN’s.

Deep32
Deep32
1 year ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

I imagine you are referring to the 4 Ohio class SSBNs that were converted to SSGNs?
They have been stripped of their SSBN role and have had a large amount of work done to allow them to accommodate the TLAM fit.
So yes, if you strip the tubes of all of its equipment, you basically have a large tube which you can convert to whatever! Not something that any country does on its SSBNs.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 year ago
Reply to  Deep32

Is this TLAM conversion something that could be considered with any of the lifex Vanguards? To add a bit of en masse firepower.

Deep32
Deep32
1 year ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Theoretically it’s a possibility, but, given the age of the V boats, the expense of the conversion and extra running costs of these old ladies wouldn’t warrant it. In fact it would probably be cheaper to build a streached A boat and fit a load of VL TLAM to it. I imagine the only reason the US went for it was that they were still fairly new boats with much of their core life left, so would have been a bit of a waste of 4 good hulls. We may find that SSN(R) doesn’t come fitted with TLAM, but a… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I wouldn’t lay to much store in those figures for our CASD commitment. Yes we have 16 tubes, yes they are not all full of missiles (some are used for trg purposes), but, they carry enough missiles/warheads to kill lots of people many times over!

eclipse
eclipse
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan

If Russia launches a nuclear strike it won’t be just against us, and the US will respond as well. As the US has three boats on patrol and we have one, that is indeed around 400 warheads.

Andrew
Andrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan

So theoretically, 12 missiles with 5 warheads each, enough to wipe out 60 Russian cities/targets isn’t enough of a deterrent? If tensions rose to the point of conflict with Russia, would a second SSBN not also be deployed doubling the destructive power?

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew

Hi Andrew concern would be that with 60 warheads you become open to the potential that if a nation develops a Anti Ballistic Missile system, your options become limited and you end up only being able to hold a coupe of cities at risk and in true the British deterrent has only ever been about holding Moscow at risk. Which in itself is a deterrent in peace time. My concern is I’m not sure that our limited deterrent would hold in a time of extremis such as war, so I could see a European war stretching the deterrent. The US… Read more »

Mac
Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The UK is increasing its stock of nuclear warheads for the Dreadnought boats (it was announced earlier this year) so they will almost certainly be carrying more than 60 per patrol.

Deep32
Deep32
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I think you will find the target set for our Trident missile warheads encompasses more then just Moscow, it always has!!

mike
mike
1 year ago

At the time of design fewer missiles seem the right thing to do , but now the situation is a lot different and i wonder is there some regret only fitting 12 tubes . i am sure a few more silos would not add to greatly to the cost . It is hard to believe one political party wanted to build the subs and to be armed with no missiles , what a invite for Putin that would be seen as .

Ron
Ron
1 year ago

Good to see the pieces come together and that the project seems to be on schedule. Yet I have one concern, sonar. It would appear that Thales have been given the contract for the 2076 sonar suite to equip the Dreadnought class. This is the same suite that the Astutes have, all well and good some will say. However the 2076 is old, it was designed back in the 1990s, we were still using windows 3.1 or 95, a Nokia 2110 and a tv so big it would take up half the livingroom. Yes it has had upgrades, but they… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron

One of the USPs if 2076 is that is has ‘easily upgradeable commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) processing systems’ So I assume the system is capable of more upgrades than previous systems and can integrate AI algorithms and so on.

Last edited 1 year ago by James Fennell
Deep32
Deep32
1 year ago
Reply to  James Fennell

It is and has been several times since it was first introduced on Torbay in early 2004.

PY80
PY80
1 year ago

Hello ! I’m following this site from Switzerland. I am a fan of the UK since my grandfather invited me to the Bex meeting several decade years ago. I was a child and I could saw the Harrier… what was impressive for me. And since I follow news on the RAF, British army and Royal Navy. I ask myself about the utility of a nuclear deterent when you are dependant of another nation to use the arsenal… Is it not a wast of money this program ? The USA will decide if you could use the nuclear deterrent. And maybee… Read more »

Marked
Marked
1 year ago
Reply to  PY80

This old nonsense again!

The US does not need to approve the use. The entire front end of the UK trident, warhead and decoys, is entirely UK made. This has always been the case as it allowed the UK independent control of the system.

Airborne
Airborne
1 year ago
Reply to  PY80

Nope, sorry wrong. Thanks.

PY80
PY80
1 year ago
Reply to  Airborne

I was wondering about something so strategic. If not, so much the better. Thanks for the answers. 😃

Ian
Ian
1 year ago

I do question the rationale behind reducing the number of tubes from 16 to 12, given the normal practice of designing platforms with enough space to fit more equipment as a ‘future-proofing’ measure. Then again I suppose more tubes implies a larger boat that’s more difficult to hide, the accuracy of the delivery system keeps improving, and the theoretical capacity of 12 MIRVed missiles would allow for > 100 warheads per boat anyway.

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian

At the time they were ordered the threat seemed less, and compared to the Cold War it remains less. The Vanguards rarely carried more than 8 Trident anyway. Even with increased tensions a fully loaded Dreadnought will have more warheads than a Vanguard with 8 – and we are increasing the number o warheads, so I expect that the Dreadnoughs will carry a full load of 12 Trident D5s.

Joe16
Joe16
1 year ago

It’s nice that they’ve been dlivered, but I wasn’t aware we’d begun actual contruction of the hull sections. I thought it was all about the reactor and stuff at this stage. Maybe I’m wrong, but how long are they going to sit in Barrow before they get integrated into the hull?

Knight7572
Knight7572
1 year ago

Speaking of the US

It seems people today think the US Navy is this supreme navy that is the mighty with their supercarriers as the pride of the fleet and is invincible,

Wasn’t that the same mindset that personified HMS Hood until the illusion of superiority was shattered when she blew up like all the horrors of Jutland with nothing to show for it

Richard Hocking
Richard Hocking
1 year ago

As a Retired serviceman I find it rather worrying that information of this level is being made public. During my service we continually had the need for secrecy and the official secrets act drummed into us. Here we are today in the modern snowflake word telling everyone exactly where we are with our new Subs. Just put the blueprints up on Wiki why don’t you.