A union boss has claimed that British steelworkers have been “betrayed” as it was reported that French steel may be used for the new fleet of nuclear submarines.
French firm Industeel has reportedly won a contract to supply steel for the new fleet, it is not currently known what percentage of the submarines will be made of French steel.
Construction work is now to begin on the Successor submarines.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon had announced that work will start on the UK’s new nuclear missile submarine fleet with a £1.3 billion investment.
The Successor project will now move into the next stage, known as ‘Delivery Phase 1’, with manufacturing work beginning on structural steel work for the ‘auxiliary machine space’ of the first submarine: this contains switchboards and control panels for the reactor.
The money will also be spent furthering the design of the submarine, purchasing materials and long lead items, and investing in facilities at the BAE Systems yard in Barrow-in-Furness where the submarines will be built.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
“Britain’s ballistic missile submarines are the ultimate guarantee of our nation’s safety – we use them every day to deter the most extreme threats.
We cannot know what new dangers we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s so we are acting now to replace them.
Along with increasing the defence budget to buy new ships, planes and armoured vehicles, this shows that this Government will never gamble with our national security.
The investment will support delivery of the manifesto commitment on which this Government was elected, to retain the Trident-based continuous at sea deterrent – the ultimate guarantee of our safety –and build the new fleet of four Successor Ballistic Missile submarines: securing thousands of highly skilled jobs in the UK.
That commitment was underlined in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review and supported decisively by an overwhelming majority in Parliament on 18 July 2016, sending a strong message to the hundreds of companies involved in the submarine supply chain that they – and their tens of thousands of employees across the country – can keep planning for the future.”
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community union said:
“The Defence Secretary is boasting about cutting steel while in reality these submarines have snubbed British-made steel. This is a betrayal of British steelworkers.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said:
“It is an early stage of the programme, but there will be British steel in the new submarines.”
The Successor programme already employs more than 2,600 people across MOD and industry, including 1,800 at BAE Systems.
Thousands more will be employed in the supply chain with an average of 7,800 people expected to be working on Successor each year throughout the duration of the programme.
At peak, in the early 2020s, BAE Systems anticipates employing more than 5,000 people on the Successor programme.