BAE Systems has been awarded a £1.5bn contract for delivery of the seventh Astute class submarine and a further £900m for the next phase of the Dreadnought submarine programme.

Gavin Williamson announced these contracts today during a visit to the Company’s submarine site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. During his visit, the Defence Secretary named the seventh and final submarine in the Astute class as Agincourt as we reported earlier here.
He also formally opened a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, marking the latest development in a major infrastructure investment programme at the Company’s Barrow site.  Certain phases of construction for the Dreadnought class will take place at the new Central Yard Facility, which includes production, workshop and office facilities, measuring 180m long, 90m wide and 44m high.
Construction on the first of four new Dreadnought submarines started in October 2016 and this latest funding will support ongoing design and build activities, procurement of materials and investment in new and existing facilities for a further 12 months.
An artists impression of Dreadnought.
The Defence Secretary said:
“This multi-billion-pound investment in our nuclear submarines shows our unwavering commitment to keeping the UK safe and secure from intensifying threats. HMS Agincourt will complete the Royal Navy’s seven-strong fleet of hunter-killer attack subs, the most powerful to ever enter British service, whilst our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate defence against the most extreme dangers we could possibly face. Not only is this a massive boost for our armed forces, but it’s huge for Barrow, the heart of sub-building in this country. Today’s news supports around 8,000 BAE Systems submarine jobs, as well as thousands more in the supply chain, protecting prosperity and providing opportunity right across the country.”
Cliff Robson, BAE Systems Submarines Managing Director, said:
“Securing this latest funding for our submarines programmes is excellent news for BAE Systems and the 8,700 people in our Submarines business, as well as our local community in Barrow and the thousands of people across our UK supply chain who help deliver these nationally important programmes for the Royal Navy. 
We continue to make progress on these highly complex and technical programmes and today’s announcements will allow us to move forward with greater certainty and stability.”
According to a BAE press release:
“The first three submarines in the Astute class – HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful – are already in service with the Royal Navy. Earlier funding allowed us to start work on the seventh submarine in 2014, while the fourth, fifth and sixth submarines are also under various stages of construction in Barrow having been previously awarded full contracts. At 97m long and displacing more than 7,400 tonnes, they are the largest and most powerful nuclear-powered attack submarines ever built for the Royal Navy.  
Dreadnought is the programme to replace the four Vanguard class submarines, which carry the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent. Once built, they will measure 153.6m long, with a displacement of 17,200 tonnes. They are being delivered by the newly-formed Dreadnought Alliance, a joint management team established between the MOD, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce. 
The delivery of the Astute and Dreadnought programmes is a national endeavour with a supply base spanning the length and breadth of the UK. In 2017 alone, BAE Systems spent around £700m with more than 700 suppliers.”
To support the build of Dreadnought, the Barrow site is undergoing major redevelopment that will provide a range of new and upgraded capabilities, including an extension to the Devonshire Dock Hall, a 28,000m2 off-site logistics facility and a 8,000m2 Central Training Facility as well as the recently completed Central Yard Facility.
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John Clark

Good news, she’s finally funded! A small but very potent class of attack boats.


These subs are hugely sophisticated, capable and complex vessels. They cost what they are worth.


Now they cost £1.5Bn a piece?

..that’s some price inflation since the first one.


You need to check your facts.

Lee H

First 3 boats contracted at fixed price of £900m

John Clark

That’s what happens when they are ordered in dribs and drabs … The unit cost sky rockets without the economies of scale.

Stephen G.

Good news. It’s a pity we couldn’t get an eighth.


Will the remaining 3 boats of the previous Trafalgar class be kept in service till the end of their designed life or retired early?


Mr J Bell

This is good news.
Just wish we had an 8th or 9th boat funded and on order. These are definetly war winning vessels easily capable of holding at bay any Russian sub or surface warship.
What chance for a couple more I wonder?
£1.5 billion each is a lot but comparable to the virginia class whilst being superior in combat power, sonar suite and torpedo fitted.


Another win for our Defence Secretary? Astute #7 was often held up as a potential cut to help balance the MOD’s books.


Great news and an industrial capability regenerated. that’s the thing about capability holidays, costs a fortune to correct later – unless you buy off the shelf from another country that hasn’t divested from its heavy industrial base.

Even at £1.5bn I consider this good vfm, surely we take a lot of lessons learned from the Astutes and this will make Successor even cheaper than it otherwise would have been.


great news but I can’t help thinking if we order all 7 at the start we would have paid a fraction of the cost. We need to stop these partial buys to save short term money and just commit. They should set the MOD budget to guaranteed 2% and then step back and let them spend it in the most efficient manner, even if that means borrowing against future 2%s.

John Fleming

Have they fixed the overheating problems, and lack of speed/power of the Astute class?
Or is that not discussed?

Tim Winter

Good news impressive submarines and as others have already said would be great to get a couple more will probably never happen but nice to dream !


I will ‘fess up and admit I didn’t know all those bow sections for Astute subs came from Cammell Laird in Birkenhead …