BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce will undertake concept and design work for new Royal Navy nuclear submarines.
Two contracts worth £85 million each have been awarded to BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce to deliver design and concept work for a future Class of Royal Navy submarine.
Over the next three years and supporting 350 jobs in the process, the contracts will deliver design work to inform a future decision which will help define the replacement approach for the Astute Class submarines – the nuclear powered fleet of submarines (SSNs) currently in service with the Royal Navy.
Ben Wallace, the Secretary of State for Defence, said:
“Marking the start of a new journey in submarine development, British designers and engineers will lead the way in building submarines for our Royal Navy. This multi-million pound investment ensures that this vital capability will be ready to replace our Astute class submarines as they come out of service, whilst supporting high-skilled jobs across the Midlands and North West of England.”
Ian Booth, Submarine Delivery Agency CEO, said:
“Although it is too early to determine what the capability solution will be, designing and building submarines is one of the most complex and challenging feats of engineering that the maritime industry undertakes. Such work relies on some of the nation’s most experienced defence nuclear experts from the very beginning of the design phase.”
Steve Timms, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Submarines business, said:
“We’re very proud of our role in the delivery of the nation’s submarine fleet and this contract further builds on our rich heritage. In what is the 150th anniversary year of our Barrow shipyard, we now have the opportunity to further strengthen our partnership with the Royal Navy long in to the future. We’re looking forward to working with our partners and helping to deliver another strategically important and critical national defence programme.”
The contract was awarded following approval of a three-year Programme, Definition and Design phase for a capability solution for the MOD’s ‘Maritime Underwater Future Capability’ programme.
BAE Systems will work alongside the Submarine Delivery Agency, Rolls-Royce, Babcock and partners on a new class of nuclear powered attack submarines for the UK Royal Navy to replace the Astute class – currently referred to as SSN-Replacement (SSNR).
BAE Systems is also a member of the Dreadnought Alliance and, working alongside the Submarine Delivery Agency and Rolls-Royce, is leading the design and build of a replacement for the Vanguard class. Build of the first two of the four new Dreadnought class submarines is well underway in Barrow.
The Defence Command Paper, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’, briefly described the now started Astute replacement programme back in March:
“We commit to funding for the next generation of nuclear submarines (SSNs) to guarantee our security well into the second half of the century.”
The Astute-class submarines are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world-leading sensors, design and weaponry in a versatile vessel. The Royal Navy also say that the class sets a new standard for the Royal Navy in terms of weapons load, communication facilities and stealth.
The Astute class was the replacement for the Trafalgar-class fleet submarines in Royal Navy service. We know very little about their replacements however.
There is a bit of information floating around, though. Pun intended. Respected naval commentator H. I. Sutton wrote in an article for Forbes that on November the 23rd 2019, BAE Systems advertised a job in Barrow-in-Furness.
“The advert is now closed, but the information contained is of great interest because of just one word: SSNR. The role description included ‘to work different stakeholders across the Astute, Dreadnought and SSNR programmes’. Defence watchers will recognize the first two projects. The Astute Class is the Royal Navy’s current attack submarine, and the Dreadnought is the new Trident missile boat.”