BAE Systems, the British multinational defence, security, and aerospace company, plans to construct a new Pre-Paint Outfitting Facility, to be named the Ramsden Dock Facility (RDF), at Dova Way, Barrow-in-Furness.

This development forms a key part of BAES’ next submarine development phase, the Boat Build programme.

According to a planning permission application, “The RDF building is an essential asset for our Boat Build programme, mirroring the function of the Central Yard Facility (CYF) within our main site, with the added benefit of a Goliath crane in an annexe structure,” said a representative from BAES.

Infrastructure and Design of the Future-Ready Facility

The planned RDF building will rest on piled foundations, encased in a steel-framed, clad envelope, and feature a floor slab to support the structure. It will also incorporate an efficient drainage system, hard standing pavement, and soft landscaping.

Infrastructure improvements may be required to accommodate the transport of heavy loads, potentially affecting the area from the roundabout at Michaelson Road and Bridge Road, south towards Ramsden Dock Road. Specific details of these works are yet to be finalised and will be consented under a separate application.

The RDF’s layout and design are currently under development. However, the main Production Hall’s footprint is expected to be approximately 66 m wide by 175 m long, with a towering height of approximately 45 m.

The Support Building, housing workshops, stores, offices, plant rooms, welfare facilities, and a canteen, will adjoin the main RDF building either on the northern or southern side. An additional annexe-type structure on the western gable end will house a 450-tonne Goliath crane.

Unravelling the Functional Design and Workflow

The main Production Hall will consist of a central aisle with eight pre-outfit bays on each side (16 in total). Operational processes will include pre-paint outfit, volume outfit installation, unit combinations, local system testing activities, and tank testing activities.

“Emissions from welding, cutting, and grinding processes will be managed by extraction systems. The RDF is designed to control noise and vibration within acceptable levels, in accordance with the planning authority’s requirements,” added the BAES representative.

Operational Details and Workforce

Upon completion, the RDF will accommodate approximately 400 workers during the day shift, 250 workers during the night shift, and 165 office workers. Disabled car parking will be provided for employees on-site. The remaining required car parking will be part of an updated car parking strategy for the wider BAE Systems site and the existing operational travel plans.

Construction Timeline and Completion

Construction of the RDF is scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2024, with completion targeted by the end of 2025. After handover and closeout procedures are finished in the first quarter of 2026, the RDF will be fully operational in 2027.

This proposal signals an exciting development in the United Kingdom’s marine and defence industry, cementing BAE Systems’ commitment to innovation and growth.

Key Features of the Ramsden Dock Facility

The Ramsden Dock Facility will include:

  • A large Production Hall with a footprint of approximately 66 m x 175 m and height of 45 m.
  • An adjoining Support Building to house workshops, offices, and welfare facilities.
  • An annexe-type structure to house a 450-tonne Goliath crane.
  • Seven gantry levels with Electric Overhead Travelling cranes.
  • Noise, vibration, and air emissions control systems.
  • Capacity to accommodate around 800 workers in shifts.
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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
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Jim
Jim
6 months ago

Wow it’s really happening, can’t believe we are looking at a fleet of 15 SSN’s with export of 8 more. My preference was to open a second site at Camel Laird. Barrow is a small town and god knows how it’s going to support such a massive endeavour. However I guess expanding an existing facility will always be cheaper. The US plans to build 3 SSN and 1 SSBN per year from two yards so barrow can move up to 1 a year. Will be interesting to see what the plan is for other UK yards and if they will… Read more »

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I believe the US yard structure is they have two yards building the SSN’s and a third yard that builds the Virginia Payload Modules for the other two to use, then they have a fourth yard dedicated to the SSBN’s. I believe Barrow actually has a larger workforce than any individual US submarine yard.

Jim
Jim
6 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

They only have electric boat in Connecticut and Newport News VA that build nuclear submarines. I don’t know how the sites are split but there are only two yards assembling.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

General Dynamics Electric Boat (who also built the Ohios) are building 78% of the Columbia with Newport News as a subcontractor for the rest.
On the Virginia Newport News builds the bow and stern sections while Electric Boat build the central and reactor modules and they take turns assembling the submarines. Meanwhile BAE Louisville, Kentucky are building the entire Virginia Payload Modules including hull sections for the shipyards.
I thought Huntingdon Ingalls had their second yard doing submarine work as well but they do seem to only one of them doing the submarine work.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Hi Jim, where do you get the “15” SSN’s figure from? Is this15 for the RN?

Jim
Jim
6 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Yes, that has been implied by the government as part of AUKUS. 15 for us 8 for Australia.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Well all I can say to that is “cor blimey”! That’s quite a commitment and bound to be at a huge cost, as are the Australian subs for here. Hope the surface fleet numbers don’t suffer too much.

Matt
Matt
6 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

They’re at the minimum keeping the surface fleet at the same numbers but increasing lethality, now they’re actually fitting the T31 with mk41 vls which is a breath of fresh air for the RN. Coupled with NSM and the future anglo-french missiles under development, it looks like the RN is finally getting what it needs.

Deep32
Deep32
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Hi Jim, If that turns out to be the case, fantastic, but it wont be without its problems. Doubling the number of SSN’s would require a substantial manpower uplift, somewhere in the region of 1500 personnel across the board. Thats 840 immediate crew and some 600 odd in shore establishments to rotate people around. Then there is the infrastructure required to accommodate the increase. Faslane isnt big enough to handle some 20 SMs, not sure if it can house some 840 extra sailors either? Of course the RN could always base some units back down in Devonport if required, would… Read more »

Jim
Jim
6 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Sure but 1500 people is just 1% of the total personnel of the forces, we use to have 15 SSN on the same basing foot print we have today so it’s doable. Several boats will be forward deployed in Australia as well. It’s ambitious but all very doable for a government with a £ 1trillion annual budget.

Deep32
Deep32
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim, wrong way of looking at the personnel problem. An extra 1500 submariners is approx an extra 25% in their numbers, a substantial increase in what is essentially a small force within the navy. Not only that, but that number is spread across all branches and ranks. Getting experienced SNCO’s will be an issue, especially the nuclear qualified watchkeepers, which are already at a pinch point. To achieve this increase, the RN is going to have to start increasing numbers of submariners from around about 2027/29 depending on the trade. Not an easy task as they need to grow the… Read more »

Simon
Simon
6 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

I understood that at least before COVID we had a shortage of submarine personal. One of my mates had been out for a few years prior to that and was offered a number of time to rejoin. pretty sure there were sign on payments etc

Deep32
Deep32
6 months ago
Reply to  Simon

That wouldn’t at all surprise me. Just before I left the navy, certain trades
/ranks were being offered bonuses of upto 50k to sign on for a further 5 years. It is not uncommon to target pinch trades.

Simon
Simon
6 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

My mate was a engineer in a submarine , so I expect his trade was in demand. wouldn’t have suited his home life so he turned it down

Last edited 6 months ago by Simon
Mr Bell
Mr Bell
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Agree. Sound logic.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Let’s be honest the 15 boats would be something not achieved for a 3 decades..so staffing is not really a problem as long as they plan the training pipelines. the big issue will be the first new SSNs will probably come on line 2038-2040 at which point astute will be 30+ years old so we may actually see a drop in numbers in late 2030…then in the mid 2040s we would see an increase in numbers…that may be a bit of a staffing crunch point if it’s not well planned…infact the service may have to run over establishment for a… Read more »

Louis
Louis
6 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Numbers wont go below 7 once all Astute are in service. Realistically if we wanted 15 submarines the build rate would have to be one every 16 months at the slowest. If the first enters service 2038 and another was commissioned every 16 months after then by 2050 there would be 10/11 in service. If each Astute has a 30 year life there would also be 3/4 Astute.
2040 hopefully 2 SSN AUKUS would be in service as well as all Astutes, save maybe Astute herself.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 months ago
Reply to  Louis

Yes but Astute is going to be 31 years old in 2038 so even if everything goes completely to plan and we get SSN AUKUS commissioned by 2038..Astute may not last that long…when you have to decommission a nuclear sub you have to decommission it…..even then it generally takes the first boat to be considered operational ( 4 in the case of ASUTE) so if commissioned in 2038 it SSN AUKUS we not be operational until the early 2040s. If you consider astute it took 9.5 years from keel being laid down to commissioning and then another 4 years before… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Jonathan
Louis
Louis
6 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

That was because a lot of expertise had been lost, that won’t happen with SSNR. Astute took 9.5 years from being laid down to being commissioned.
SSNR will be built faster as shown in this article so it’ll take much less than 9.5 years.
To be commissioned in 2038 it would probably have to be laid down early 2030s at the latest.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 months ago
Reply to  Louis

The only thing to remember is that commissioned is not operational…ASUTE as boat one took four years from commissioning to being fully operational..so yes we may get a boat commissioned for 2038..but it’s going to be spending a lot of time playing learn the boat.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
6 months ago
Reply to  Louis

I’m hoping a shift to the left with first SSNr in service much much earlier. SSNr is likely to be a proven design using technology from the dreadnought programme. Might even be a shortened Dreadnought hull form with the missile compartments replaced by multiple Virginia class payload bays.

Deep32
Deep32
6 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Hi mate, sorry to disagree, but it will be a problem, more so in certain branches. See my reply to @Jim above. Agree we will have to run over established strengths, but it will be for the better part of a decade if we do plan to acquire 15 SSN(R) boats. I personally think that we will get SSN(R) before 2038ish, as the first two A boats will be well into their 30’s by then, having been run hard, will most likely be out of usable fuel well before then. Vanguards refit didn’t go well, there are no other SM’s… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Hi deep I will bow to your knowledge on manning issues…and I agree they will need to look at the training pipelines and start enlarging the establishment very soon ( strategic workforces changes always need to be started a decade in advance…it’s why we alway cock it up) I’m not sure about getting SSNR before 2038ish…look how long it took ASUTE after keel laying to be commissioned and then declared operational….unless HMG suddenly get to agreeing the design and contract ultra quick (say for 2025, and if we take type 31 as an aberration when have HMG ever been swift)… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
6 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Hi Jonathan, the manning issue isnt helped by the need to first get people qualified as a Submariner either a newbe or someone coming from a different class of SM/having to re-qualify. SSBN’s probably take an average of 20-25 trainees to sea, a mixture of brand new out of the box and those having to re-qualify. They all sleep on camp beds in the missile compartment (2 Deck). When qualified they are integrated into a watchkeeping position within their trade to gain some experience. The same applies to those on a SSN, although they generally only take 10-15 to sea,… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

That training pipe is a real problem…and I thought I had issues when trying to get emergency care advanced practitioners trained….all I had to find was a qualified mentor and educator for each as well as the right number of cases ….not how to cram their sleeping quarters in a itty bitty space…gives me a whole new perspective on management of training pipelines….you could almost see the use for leasing a couple of electric boats to act as training establishments if your thinking of doubling the number of hulls over a decade.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
6 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Alternatively, RN may request loan of, w/ option to buy, several Virginia class from USN. Mate’s rates; stranger things yet may be afoot. 🤔😉

Fifteen SSNs would more than double currently envisioned (circa 2026) RN fleet; an expansion to twelve boats might perhaps be a more realistic undertaking. This would still provide a meaningful increase in numbers, which would be truly appreciated by your allies. An open question would be whether the probable successor government will continue to support this program? Can any Western democracy sustain a long-term military rearmament program, even when clearly required? Dunno. 🤔

Deep32
Deep32
6 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Not entirely sure on option to loan/buy some Virgina’s for us, but an interesting proposition nonetheless. Increasing out SSN fleet to fifteen is a huge undertaking for us even if spread over an extra 10;years or so. 1SL has indicated 8 at least last year, then we had the ‘SM v Frigate’ debate, so to me all indicates that we will probably grow our SSN numbers, but believe 10-12 is a much more realistic number, whilst probably also growing our surface fleet. Can easily see 8 T83 combatants being ordered depending on size and capability requirements. Suspect it might be… Read more »

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
6 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Amazing how quickly rational people can reach consensus. A shame how deaf, dumb and mute the political class is, across Western democracies, w/ respect to defense/defence. Entirely predictable results; oh well…🤔😳

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Heard 12 for us the other day Similar to the Cold War effort

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
6 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

I think official stance in warships IFR report was a minimum of 12 upto possibly 15. 15 would be excellent news.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
6 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Ah, their AUKUS issue likely. I’ll go and recheck. Cheers.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I thought it was at least 12 upto 15 or more for the RN and at least 8 for Australia. When combined with 3-5 loaned Virginia class that will be a powerful SSN fleet Australia has at its disposal.
The sub numbers are crucial. It’s one of the few areas we have a massive technological edge over Russia and China.
Wargames by Pentagon indicate the US SSN fleet could singularily defeat a Chinese invasion of Taiwan with 10-15 SSNs lost. High casualties but less than a surface fleet enforced counter invasion task force.

Duker
Duker
6 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Loaned Virginias will be returned to US and ‘crew sent’ to UK for new SSNR as they near final completion.
RAN has difficulty manning its SSK in service now, so upping the nuclear fleet numbers beyond 2 -3 in service at one time is wishful thinking.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
6 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

It’s the figure that has been banded about since Australia chose to work with us on the next gen SSN programme. I don’t think it has any official confirmation, but a lot of credible people have heard rumblings of an order for 15 subs for the RN and 8 for the RAN

John Hartley
John Hartley
6 months ago

Given budget pressure, it may end up, 9-10 RN, 5-6 RAN.

Jim
Jim
6 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

15 subs is not the end of the world for the defence budget. A modest increase of £1-2 billion a year can achieve it. you also only need 700 or 800 more crew out of close to 200,000 military personnel. That’s not a massive ask. However if they were not planning to up the fleet size then there would be no need to massively increase the size of the yard at Barrow. SSN AUKUS is going to be the centre peace of the most important alliance of the 21st century. SSN’s will be the main thing we bring to the… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
6 months ago

My concern is 15 happens to be the number of 7 currently for RN and 8 for Australia added together.
I will believe it when I see 15 RN boats in the water.

Louis
Louis
6 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

RN wouldn’t announce that they plan to have less SSN than Australia. Australia has just 6 SSK and have massive issues. SSN are the best thing we can give NATO and our best offensive asset, I expect at least ten SSN.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
6 months ago

Theres also a seperate planning application for a five year renewal of the temporary car park permission on the western side of the slab (the area not circled in red on the image above) currently the whole slab is zoned as a temporary car park but they are proposing to properly mark out spaces and install street lighting on the western third presumably providing the parking for the staff working in this facility.

John Hartley
John Hartley
6 months ago

I like to see UK industrial development like this. My only doubt, is 175m future proof? Would an extra 10m be wise?

Jim
Jim
6 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

What you planning on building a battle star. Vanguard class is only 149m long, even Ohio is only 170m

John Hartley
John Hartley
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Well, if you look at the size jump from Polaris to Trident, and also Trafalgar to Astute, you can see the direction of travel.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Battlestar😂🤣😂🤣 love it. Yes please. Pegasus and Galactica first 2 in class.

DRS
DRS
6 months ago

Where does the crane come from? The used to be uk manufactured years ago are they now export form china?

Coll
Coll
6 months ago

It looks like BAE has already updated part of the existing site already.
(Link)

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
6 months ago
Reply to  Coll

One thing’s for sure. The West Cumbrian coast really needs the jobs, investment and net income into the area of 20,000+ highly paid dockyard workers.

Coll
Coll
6 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Yes. That area does seem to be forgotten about.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
6 months ago

Wow. A day of good news. Mk41 vls on type 31s and now infrastructure to build SSNr. It’s about bloody time out politicians woke up to the desperate state of the UK home defences.
We need some real urgency in these programmes. first SSNr in the water by 2027/early 2028. Concurrent build with dreadnought class.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
6 months ago

It’s so good to see Bae really committing to its businesses in Britain when such commitments looked a little nebulous at best not so far back and certainly on the ship building side. Much needed commitments both here and in Glasgow.