General Dynamics has received a $269.2m contract to provide 42 missile tubes and outfitting material for the US Navy’s Columbia class and the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought class nuclear submarines.

The programme faced some issues last year after faulty welding was identified on missile tube systems, the issue was later resolved and is understood not to have impacted on the Dreadnought programme.

A Common Missile Compartment in build.

The recent contract notice states:

“General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut, is awarded a $269,264,180 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously-awarded contract N00024-17-C-2117 for the manufacturing of 42 missile tubes and missile tube outfitting material in support of the Columbia class fleet ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) and the United Kingdom (UK) Dreadnought.  Work will be performed in Quonset Point, Rhode Island (71 percent); and York, Pennsylvania (29 percent), and is expected to be completed by May 2028.  This is a joint U.S.-UK Common Missile Compartment program, and this modification includes UK foreign military sales funding. 

Fiscal 2019 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy); and foreign military funds (UK) funding in the amount of $49,500,000 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.”

Recently, the US State Department approved the purchase of Dreadnought trainer upgrades and training for strategic systems programmes for the UK.

According to a contract notice posted last year, General Dynamics Electric Boat was awarded a $7,658,054 contract to provide various labour and material items in support of the US Strategic Weapons Systems Ashore system, US Navy SSGN Repair efforts and importantly, Dreadnought trainer upgrades and training for ‘Strategic Systems Programmes’ for the United Kingdom.

HM Treasury last year approved the Initial Gate Business Case for the new submarine school to be built at Scotland’s largest military establishment, Faslane.

The new school will provide academic and technical training for all Royal Naval personnel entering the submarine service from 2022.

The Dreadnought class will replace the Vanguard class submarines from 2028 onwards and will host the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent.

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Looks like the MOD intends to dig in at Faslane, regardless, of SNP threats to tear the place down along with thousands of jobs.


Yes, anyone with half a brain cell knows it will survive as it is official Labour Party policy.

Renewing trident was in that goon squads manifesto that they written, and it will be in the next one as well.


To think that we are no longer capable of producing steel to make these tubes, or even the pressure hulls that house them.
We can only hope that Brexit brings the impetus for British owned, British run Steel Manufacturing, to invest in a new industrial base.


Think its now jointly owned by the Indians and Germans so don’t hold your breath.


A British company actually bough almost all of the Indian Tata owned steel plants ect in the uk… British Steel… ,let’s get back to what we British are good at….


I wonder if its the US Government who wants a common missile assembly, considering we purchase the rockets from them? Possibly to do with the reliability of such a vital weapon system and having one quality sign off process? Am I dreaming or have there been some tube leaking or cracking issues recently??


Or, maybe the UK doesn’t want to purchase French Steel post Brexit?

Just a flippant remark, to get the two Remoaners who marked me down going!


Then I suggest you either set up a Safe Space for Fragile Minds, or…
No! On second thoughts, I’ll ban myself!
Tally-ho and all that, to those I’ve bantered with over the years.

Don’t mention Brexit!!!


Hi George, I’m confused, what did Ian do wrong? Thanks


A good number of these tubes are actually manufactured in the UK, and then finished by GD in the US before coming back.


I would actually hope we get involved in new hi tech, higher productivity industries make more GDP to boast defence spending. Why do we want to bother with production of commodities like steel, started my Engineering career in a iron foundry, horrible place to work.


Must have been back in the 1800s then. France obviously values it.


We are. Liberty Steel are expanding steel plate production and look to be taking over many steel works around the world. It is British!


Isn’t that 6 tubes short,thought it was 12 tubes per sub.


This contract is for both the USN and RN, so presumably it’s split between the first few boats in each class, as opposed to all these first tubes being for Dreadnought


Ah yes true its for both countries


42 tubes for 4 boats. Am I missing something because I thought they were going to have 8 tubes per boat?


It’s for the US and UK next-gen SSBNs (Columbia and Dreadnought class respectively) so a total of 12 Columbia with 16 tubes each plus 4 Dreadnought with 12 tubes each. This order at first glance seems to be quite a modest order for first few US & UK subs. However… 42 is still a somewhat strange number though because I thought the Common Missile Compartment (CMC) was designed to come in modules with 4 tubes per module and 42 doesn’t divide into an exact number of quad-packs. Either – The modularity concept has gone away and it is now not… Read more »

Dan Harrison

Cheers for the explanation.

David E Flandry

@2 tubes per UK boat, 16 for US. But UK boats will normally carry 8 missiles with 5 warheads each


I don’t want to go all Dr Strangelove, but I am not sure 40x 100kt is enough to deter Putin/China, if it really came down to it. In the early 1960s Russia was war planning 60 nukes on Britain. I doubt that plan has changed much. Many Russian/Chinese nukes are in the 800kt-2 megaton class. Makes our 100kt warheads look feeble. Chevaline. Most rumours at the time said it was 2 or 3 small 40-60kt warheads. Now they say 2x 225kt warheads. If they were 225 kt, then bring them back for future UK Trident. 5 per missile, all 12… Read more »

Peter Crisp

I don’t know about you but the thought of 40 nukes heading towards Russia seems like a mighty large deterrent to me. That’s still more than enough to kill many, many millions of people and leave the country in a huge mess and if all they get in return is the invasion of the UK then I’d argue it’s not worth it.
I suppose it all depends on how you view the death of just mere millions rather than having the ability to kill everyone.


Russia is huge, Britain is small, from a square mile/km point of view. The Russian elite could easily escape into Siberia & not worry about 40 x 100 kt warheads exploding a thousand KM+ behind them. Going back to the early 60s, the UK worked out it would need a minimum of 450 x megaton warheads to completely wipe out Russia including Siberia. Not even I would want the UK to build 450 x megaton warheads nowadays. However, if Russia is planning to drop 60 warheads on us, then it is not unreasonable for the UK to be able to… Read more »


The UK for a long time has believed in unilaterally reducing the number of deployed warheads as a way of persuading others to do the same.This has been a pointless exercise as nobody else has followed suite so maybe we should increase the number again say 12 instead of 8 missiles so 60 warheads.There is also the issue of developing anti missile capabilities, how many will get through, if a potential adversary thinks they can stop sufficient numbers then the whole point of deterrence fails.

Peter Crisp

What exactly would be the point of the Russian elite winning if Russia has a dozen cities that are now a smoking ruin? Even if the rest of the world doesn’t join in they’re hardly likely to want to trade with a country that has just obliterated a country so again what’s the point.

Glass Half Full

Well there is a reason most Russians don’t live in Siberia. But to address your point its worth thinking through the consequences of a hypothetical Russia-UK nuclear exchange even with the UK’s limited capabilities, and where Article 5 isn’t automatically triggered for whatever reason. 1. The fallout over the UK might well drift across Europe including France, what would France do then, given that Russia would know in advance that this was a possible consequence? What would Russia do knowing this to be a likely outcome? But let’s assume France doesn’t launch, then … 2. Presuming UK missiles alone degrade… Read more »


If the UK has only 40x 100kt warheads & Russia/China have invested in the latest S-300/400/500 SAM systems, to protect their cities, they may think they can call our bluff & we are likely to surrender. I dread to think what happens then.
This is why I would like to see the UK have at least one high end SAM battery (THAAD/Aegis Ashore, etc.)

Peter Crisp

Ok lets say they block almost all our missiles and only 2 get through. That’s likely to be 2 cities with mass casualties that will require almost super human levels of medical care for the injured as there’s going to be loads. The economy is still going to take a monstrous hit from the cost of the ongoing medical bills for the tens if not hundreds of thousands of incredibly badly injured civilians.
Not something they will want to have happen and especially something they made happen for no reason.


Agreed – for an island as crowded as ours BMD isn’t really viable with the costs and effectiveness of current systems.


Dr Strangelove, it sounds more like one of the sorcerer supreme’s Dr Strange’s alternate realities where logic and rational thought don’t exist. You honestly think the leaders of Russia and China would be sat thinking, ‘right well we will only be sacrificing tens of millions of civilians, turning a dozen or so cities including our capital to complete nuclear ruin, trillions of dollars worth of damage, economic ruin, the face of the country changed forever, the national psyche changed forever, probable mass civilian uprising, almost certain full retaliation from NATO including more nuclear retaliation, but!! the Brits are lacking on… Read more »


There’s a great little app/site for visualising the effect of nuclear strikes called NukeMap (imaginative I know) which can dial the yield, burst height, wind etc to whatever settings you want. If I remember correctly this link I’ve saved shows 8 400kt (max US Trident D5 payload??) over Moscow.

(Please remove if not allowed Mods – not sure on your link policy!)

Daniele Mandelli

I’ve seen sites like this. You can set yield and strike your own town.

I’m a believer of MAD and having Trident but sites like that are sobering.

I set the yield to the biggest the Russians had, Tsar Bomba or something like that, with 50 megaton yield.

That bomb would have taken out all of the South East with a ground burst.

Captain P Wash

Exactly Daniele.

The Downvotes are having a Similar effect with this site too.

Time to lose this particular feature me thinks, otherwise, at least allow the Identities of said Downvoters to be Visible.

I used to love coming here , not so much now though.


The downvoters? is this some sort of secret group that downvote people or are you talking about the people that might have a different opinion, or just don’t agree with the post.

I’m lost because you yourself have comments on other threads that just have upvotes, heredotus has a comment with about 7 downvotes only, i have a post on another thread with a load of upvotes and downvotes, how does this group of downvoters work then?

David Flandry

Luckily the USSR/Russia never developed a deliverable Tsar Bomba. The US had a 22 MT warhead, but found that huge bombs “wasted a of of energy in the core of the warhead explosion. Most of them are now in the 250-500 KT range.


Several questions crop up and it if anyone has answers I would be happy to hear them.
1. Does anyone know if the RN is looking at buying the BAE payload module?
2. Is the Admiralty looking at a different base for the SSBNs on a just in case situation, if so I think Milford Haven would be good.
3. Why is it that the Dreadnought class seem to be bigger when having a smaller payload?
4. Final question, will the Dreadnought class form the basis of the new SSNs build and if so would these carry a payload module?


I think the answer to 3 is a combination of the size of the new PWR3 reactor + the extra space millennials expect + room for female crew members.


Warships Mag says it is those 3 & a bigger sickbay & gym + more sound reducing measures.


Our nuclear deterrent is part of our commitment to NATO. If we are attacked all of NATO is obligated to respond including the USA and France so a) the pointless brexit comments about us going alone are irrelevant and b) this isn’t about Russia attacking us, it’s about them deciding to take on the whole of NATO.


Strikes me that having soveriegn capability in subs and frigates mean just in assembly as much steel at the moment along with sensors, systems, in weapons and propulsion etc. The FSSS could well have a far bigger UK content in terms of materials. Obviously these subs are fabulously expensive and built over a far longer time frame. From a shipbuilding point of view or shipyard that wants a future in building other types of ship, be it military and commercial, is it worth it? Deppends on value to the main contractor I guess?