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The scrapping of the seventh Astute Class submarine under construction is being “actively considered” it has emerged.

A leaked document seen by The Sunday Express stated senior officials read:

“In the long term the delay (or cancellation) will ease the pressure on manning, but we must not be seen to welcome this situation. Any loss of capability will impact on operations.”

Barrow MP John Woodcock said:

“This leaked document is confirmation that scrapping Astute boat seven is being actively considered by the government.

There is embarrassingly flawed logic within the decision but it shows just how much pressure there is to find any route out of the cash crisis that is gripping the MoD.”

The MP also said on Twitter that “industry and the MoD privately admit their ability to fund boat 7 is in doubt.”

Woodcock later tweeted:

“To be clear – we are not there yet. The defence secretary will clearly fight for the funds to cover the defence equipment programme, including boat 7. But the fact our submarine programme is under threat shows the terrible funding pressure being imposed by the Treasury.”

This comes not long after the fourth Astute class submarine, Audacious, which is being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, completed her first ever dive.

47 COMMENTS

  1. Considering how much of the cost has already been paid with long lead items how much will be saved by scrapping it now? I assume the power plant is under construction which is a pretty large chunk of the price.
    Maybe they could save a bit by mothballing it or having it as just a training vessel but scrapping it would be madness.

    • If it sames some small amount of money now, then the well paid mandarins will be for it.

      Meanwhile the 55,000 MoD civil servants remain comfy & cosy as its now 16:00hrs, just 1 more hour to go before the end of another day.

      • As someone with family who work for DESG I can assure you that many are committed, hard working and extremely professional. That despite the pressures, low pay, resources and ignorant comments like this….

      • Joe, as someone who sees civil servants working tirelessly every day to support defence, I suspect you haven’t actually got any first hand knowledge of the situation.
        Don’t believe everything you read in the daily mail, without civil servants, MoD operations would collapse within a month.
        Your alternative would be what? Trained operators from the military doing the work? Sub contract the work out? Thats proven to be a highly effective way of running things hasn’t it.
        This government is negligent on many levels, the current state of the submarine service is just one example of mismanagement.

        • I think what joe is pointing out I’d how ridiculous it is, not just how many civil servants there are (more than there is in the army if the suggested cuts go through which is beyond ridiculous) and that they’re protected from cuts.

          • Protected from cuts? You must be joking. Every SDSR has targeted MOD civil service as a politically safe place for cuts, as opposed to cap badges and ships (although many of both lost as well). If you want to ride the outrage bus then there are plenty of real options, tax credits, housing benefit, but this isn’t one of them. MOD civil servers should get our support as an essential part of what makes our armed forces work.

          • The civil service in the MoD has taken a huge cut.
            If you use trained members of the armed forces to do routine maintenance, procurement, security, admin, pay etc, etc, at higher level than at present, it invariably leads to increased costs.
            The two areas are also totally different skills sets.
            Where members of the armed forces are used to do ‘non-military’ work, retention problems increase drastically, especially in the lower ranks. Recruits don’t join to see spreadsheets and go to budget meetings.
            Taking away retention issues, moving armed forces personnel around leads to a loss of continuity, expertise and associated issues.
            An AO has a starting salary of £17 k and a pension.
            A Corporals salary starts at around £30k plus accomodation and numerous other benifits and a much better pension.

            What really surprises me is that so many people believe what they read in the daily mail and what some of these grubby politicians push.
            The armed forces, civil servants doctors, nurses , poice officers, prison officers etc aren’t to blame, it was the banking sector, politicians and immoral business that caused this mess, and they are still doing it whilst sitting back and feeding this nonesense.

        • Couldn’t agree more. Successive Governments are who we should be pointing the finger at, not the MoD. Hopefully, the new Delivery Partnerships will ease some of the burden.

        • I’ve been employed in the civil service defence sector,but I wouldn’t say that either I or my colleagues ever did much work for them.One example was paid sick leave entitlement of 14 days,average taken 14 days,you were regarded as an idiot if you didn’t take it.

          • Back in 1980s,fleetlands,frater,pompey dockyard.Despite being quite a lazy person,the boredom of it was more than I could take. A couple of years ago I was in the dockyard again and things hadn’t improved much under BAE.

    • Sadly – this is yet another example of re-introducing capability.

      We fired so many people in the late 80’s onwards that when it came time to build the astutes we had lost the knowledge base.

      We are paying the cost for training a workforce up to the high skill levels required, as these things are highly specialised. We even had to get the US to help us at one point as we were so far behind – but all things considered we have now got through this difficult period and should see the benefits going forward, as long as we don’t repeat the same mistakes.

      Lastly, as with the T26 fleet – if you decide to build 1 of something per 18-24 months instead of 2 or 3 – you are increasing your costs as the workforce and infrastructure are basically the same.

      As such – we would be better off building more and refreshing our fleet faster rather than having some of the most (falsely inflated) ships on the planet.

      Same happened with the carriers – they could have been built far faster and cheaper, but govt slowed them down.

    • a lot of this stuff going on now was certainly not helped by the government quietly re-arranging what makes up the defence budget in order to cover the fact they were no longer actually paying the 2% they kept trumpeting about.

  2. That picture makes me think of a giant velociraptor factory.

    Also, something will be cut.
    Be it this, or the amphibs, something will go.

  3. @ Joe, do you actually know what MoD civil servants do? Without them how exactly to you think the military will function? The RFA are civilians, civilians provide armed and unarmed guarding at MoD sites, civilian scientists provide the solutions to frontline operational problems that cost lives, civilians maintain and transport weapon systems… i could go on! If you want to blame anyone for defence underspending then blame the current and last, several, governments.

    • 130,000 personnel in the armed forces being “supported” by 55,000 or so MoD staff.
      Anyone else think this is an optimal ratio?
      1 civil servant per 2.3 military personnel.

      Look above Mark… the 7th Astute might or might not happen.
      The amphibious capability might… or might not happen.
      Meanwhile there are more admirals than ships and will soon be more generals than tanks.

      None of this is by accident.
      It’s NOTHING to do with money & EVERYTHING to do with choices.

      • Mark is right. Mod personnel are more than just pen pushers.

        They themselves have been cut to the point Mod are struggling to find more to cut.

        If you cut the person you are not getting rid of that person’s role. Someone needs to do it.

      • For comparison, the Israeli Defense Forces have approximately 176000 regular personnel (from Wikipedia). Their Ministry of Defense has about 2500 people. Are the IDF less effective than the UK armed forces? I don’t think so.

        • At the lower end of the scale, New Zealand has 11440 serving in the Defence Force, their MoD has 120 civil servants. The UK has a very high ratio of civil servants to military personnel compared to many countries. Of course, so does the USA – 1.3M military and 742000 civilian.

        • Ah well, what a highly researched piece of work that is Marcus.
          If you look deeper into the structure of the Israeli Defence Force you may find your numbers and comparison is flawed.
          As for the NZ MoD numbers, nonesense.

      • I agree, the list of capabilities thrown away or hamstrung over such a protracted period cannot be accidental. The west has the money but for decades made choices that left it mostly sitting in the offshore accounts of a few rather than being fairly taxed to provide the things needed for a safe & secure civilisation.
        We’re dangerously weak & 6 or 7 hunter killer subs is pitifull. A ne class of cheaper AIP subs is needed, so long a we don’t build it only to be flogged off cheap as we did with the last Upholder class.
        Autonomous subs is an idea but what the rusians have proven is they’re very good at hacking our systems.

  4. Williams seems like a very determined individual.
    He may have come too late to save Ocean, but it seems Albion and Bulwark will stay as well as the scrapping of 2000 RM thrown (bloody rightly so) in the bin.
    Let’s see where this guy goes, give him some credit thus far.
    To mothball the 7th sub is absolute madness when Russian activity is and has increased.
    At least he has been very open and vocal on their movements, and i hope he stands up (a minister at last) to cutting our superb armed forces.
    We need MORE destroyers, MORE frigates and MORE submarines…not bloody less.

    • 1. Almost all of the money is spent in the UK.
      2. Delaying the New Dreadnought program 12 months would be a more sensible alternative.
      3. Much of the money already spent on 7th SSN; S/B 8 anyway.
      4. if you have a program started its bad maths to spin it out or cut it then you lose value long term on your development overheads and marking time. However the Treasury and Hammond are obviously an F4Fail organisation so nothing would surprise me.

  5. Tax it, cut it from other departments, borrow it, doesn’t matter. This madness needs to stop and MPs need to start blocking budgets and disrupting parliamentary business until the government resolves the funding crisis.

  6. The treasury answer to everything regarding defence is to cut something about time our MP’s fought for the armed services and won some more funds for the defence budget.

  7. The government has it all wrong, we look after everyone else first, then struggle for ourselves. Every year the government pays others countries millions of pounds to keep them in the commonwealth. Countries such as India are given so much and yet they have a bigger Navy than us. At what point do we look after our nation and stop giving money to others. I am not racist against others, please do not get that impression, but you have to look after your own interests first, instead our bleeding heart politicians think it’s better to give and suffer as a result. It may sound nice but we are being used and laughed at. Let’s grow up and look after ourselves. Maybe “England First” isn’t a bad idea. Maybe we need a Trump. Can you imagine protecting the Faulklands with what we have today.

  8. Only 6 SSN’s is not enough. The UK needs to invest in 5 or 6 AIP diesel electric subs to quickly restore hull numbers to a sensible level.

  9. Morning
    Couple of things.
    We seem to be going back to the number of platforms argument again – if we do not have the number of sailors to man the subs in the first place it becomes irrelevant how many we have. We have 19 DD/FF but can only realistically man 16. We will soon have 2 CVF but can only realistically man 1.
    We have an ambhibious fleet will sufficient Marines to deploy a battle group but not enough sailors to man all the ships we have to do the job.
    Defence in this country is always a balancing act, we just do not put enough money into it and when we do it goes to buy things that we do not need at prices we cannot afford all the while neglecting the fact that the men and women who provide the resource element of the equation are getting squeezed tighter and tighter.
    Is sub 7 for BAES or the RN? Currently the RN do not have enough people to man boat 7. Why build something you cannot man?
    If you want to do things think about the people first, then the process and only then the tech.
    Pretty sure I have read about PPT somewhere…..

    • The not enough sailors thing is strange.

      The Navy has a standing strength of 33,000.

      If you fill every single ship in the navy and auxiliary you have 8,200 sailors…
      The Marines and reserve Marines is another 8,000

      Most of the maintenance and support is either civil servant or private sector.

      I can’t be the only one who thinks that real proper reform has never darkened the Navy’s door.

  10. one thing that might help would be to replace Philip Hammond a man who as the saying goes “Knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”

  11. The irony is that this would be the cheapest boat to build of the 7. We are slipping off the top table like a drunken sailor in a Maltese bar. We please poverty yet still boast of our defence budget which fails to deliver. We must be able cope with 3 Dreadnought subs. The arguments for maintaining 4 are just not sustainable. We could never more than 2 at sea anyway! Manning is at the core of the problems the AF are facing in general.. Morale is rock bottom. Promises on accomodation have not been kept.
    We are not a laughing stock but 20 subs when the T and S boats were operating at full strength – with the bombers show just how far we have sunk; no pun intended. The Americans have given up on us. What next the Gibraltar ‘squadron’ flying the Admirals’ pennant? That is the true laughing stock scenario. Ships that cannot sink other ships and maybe 1 aircraft carrier that MAY be able to deploy 24 jets by 2023!! Why not 48 split between the RAF and FAA by then? Easily achievable both in terms of trained pilots and cost. This Govt. will never cut the overseas aid budget because it is terrified of what the world will say not least Corbyn and his acolytes.
    Delay Dreadnought by two years if possible without losing any real momentum. With the uncertainty of the affects of Brexit there is little downside. Cut the overseas aid budget by 10% this year and for the next 4 years after that. Sorry, that last sentence was just wishful thinking based on no sense of reality whatsoever. A bit like the Treasury and the MOD really.

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