UK — £350m upgrade for HMS Vengeance

The future of 2,000 British jobs will be secured by the sign­ing of a mul­ti-mil­lion pound deal to upgrade one of the Roy­al Navy’s nuclear deter­rent sub­marines.

HMS Vengeance departs for Devon­port pri­or to her refit [Pic­ture: Andrew Lin­nett, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The £350m con­tract to refit and refu­el HMS Vengeance was con­firmed by Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond dur­ing a vis­it to Devon­port Dock­yard in Ply­mouth today, Mon­day 26 March 2012. 

It will sus­tain more than 1,000 jobs at Bab­cock in Devon­port, and a fur­ther 300 at oth­er com­pa­nies in Ply­mouth. Such is the scale of the refit that anoth­er 700 jobs in the indus­tri­al sup­ply chain across the UK will also be sustained. 

HMS Vengeance is one of the UK’s four Van­guard Class sub­marines, designed to car­ry the UK’s Tri­dent nuclear mis­siles. Togeth­er they form the back­bone of the UK’s con­tin­u­ous at-sea nuclear deterrent. 

The upgrade is expect­ed to take three-and-a-half years — clock­ing up a total of 2.5 mil­lion man-hours. It will involve a com­plete over­haul of equip­ment on the sub­ma­rine as well as the instal­la­tion of improved mis­sile launch equip­ment and upgrad­ed com­put­er systems. 

A new reac­tor core — the ener­gy source that pow­ers the 15,000-tonne ves­sel — will also be fit­ted, mean­ing that HMS Vengeance will be able to func­tion until the end of her remain­ing oper­a­tional life with­out hav­ing to refu­el again. 

Talk­ing about the HMS Vengeance refit con­tract dur­ing his vis­it to Devon­port Dock­yard, the Defence Sec­re­tary said: 

“As well as secur­ing 2,000 UK jobs, this con­tract will ensure the nuclear deter­rent sub­ma­rine fleet can con­tin­ue to oper­ate safe­ly and effec­tive­ly to main­tain a con­tin­u­ous at-sea deter­rent. As we sta­bilise the Defence Bud­get we are increas­ing­ly able to com­mit to equip­ment projects to safe­guard the UK’s nation­al security. 

“Devon­port Dock­yard is at the heart of main­tain­ing and sup­port­ing the Roy­al Navy and I am pleased that such a large num­ber of jobs will be protected. 

“Our White Paper pub­lished ear­li­er this year said we would sup­port key sov­er­eign capa­bil­i­ties in British com­pa­nies that help us to pro­tect our nation­al secu­ri­ty and this con­tract with Bab­cock is evi­dence of that commitment.” 

Work on HMS Vengeance will begin in the next few weeks. She is the last of the four bal­lis­tic sub­marines to under­go a com­plete over­haul and refu­el. The upgrade of her sis­ter ves­sel HMS Vig­i­lant was recent­ly com­plet­ed and she is due to depart Devon­port for sea tri­als tomor­row, Tues­day 27 March. 

The Roy­al Navy’s new­er Astute Class sub­marines are designed so that they nev­er need to be refuelled. 

Rear Admi­ral Simon Lis­ter, Direc­tor of Sub­marines for the MOD, said: 

“This con­tract marks the final phase of what has proved to be a very suc­cess­ful pro­gramme of refu­elling our fleet of nuclear sub­marines. The high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed nature of the work involved in the deep main­te­nance of these mag­nif­i­cent ves­sels is tes­ta­ment to the expe­ri­ence and skills of the work­force here in Devon­port and those in the sup­ply chain across the UK.” 

Even though this is the last time a com­plete refit will be car­ried out, the sub­ma­rine dock­yard at Devon­port will con­tin­ue to car­ry out reg­u­lar main­te­nance on all of the Van­guard Class to ensure they oper­ate safe­ly and effectively. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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