Sunday, November 29, 2015

Successor submarine program: the facts

Successor is the replacement program for the Royal Navy’s Trident missile Vanguard Class submarines which form the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
The continuous at sea deterrence (CASD) has provided the United Kingdom’s ultimate security insurance policy every day for the last 46 years.
Since 1992 the 4 boats of the Vanguard Class have maintained CASD, ensuring at all times one submarine was deployed. As the Vanguard submarines reach the end of their lifespan, the UK is looking at the next generation of submarines to carry forward the vital role.

Guidance Successor submarine program: fact sheet Published 24 November 2015
  • Contents
  • Government and parliament
  • Context
  • Continuous at sea deterrence
  • Successor
  • The Trident missile
  • Current costs
  • Future costs
  • Jobs
  • Scotland
  • Obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty
  • Glossary
  • Government and parliament
  • the protection and defence of the United Kingdom is the primary responsibility of Her Majesty’s Government
  • the government is committed to maintaining minimum continuous at sea deterrence to deter the most extreme threats to the UK and to protect our vital interests; it was elected in May 2015 on a clear manifesto to build 4 Successor submarines
  • Parliament has voted twice in support of the government’s plans, once in March 2007 and again in January 2015
  • the government has considered alternative systems but concluded a ‘4 boat system’ is the most cost effective way to deliver continuous deterrence, see the Trident alternatives review
  • the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent remains essential to our securityour independent nuclear deterrent exists to deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life, helping to guarantee our security and that of our allies
  • since the end of the Cold War there remain substantial nuclear arsenals in the world; the number of nuclear armed states has increased and potential adversaries are modernising their conventional and nuclear forces; there remains the continuing risk of the further proliferation of nuclear weapons
  • recent changes in the international security context remind us that we cannot relax our guard and we cannot rule out further shifts which would put us and our NATO allies, under grave threat; it would be irresponsible to assume that the UK will not in the foreseeable future be confronted with the kinds of extreme threat to our security or way of life which nuclear weapons seek to deter
  • continued retention of our independent nuclear deterrent is required to deter any aggressor; a minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent, based on continuous at sea deterrence, and assigned to NATO, remains vital; we are therefore making the necessary investment to sustain continuous at sea deterrence by building four new nuclear armed submarines, a “Successor” class, to replace the current 4 Vanguard class submarines
  • how the government will meet this commitment is set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR)
Continuous at sea deterrence
  • the United Kingdom has been protected 24 hours a day by the continuous at sea deterrence (CASD) known as Operation Relentless, since April 1969
  • CASD is a minimal, credible and independent deterrence against aggression towards the United Kingdom
  • the nuclear deterrent’s command and control system is fully independent; decision making and use of the system remains entirely sovereign to the UK
  • the UK has declared our nuclear deterrent to the defence of the NATO Alliance since 1962, thereby contributing to the ultimate guarantee of collective Euro-Atlantic security
  • 4 Resolution Class submarines operated between 1969 and 1992 and carried the Polaris nuclear missile system
  • 4 Vanguard Class submarines became operational from 1992 and are due to continue serving until the 2030s; they carry the Trident nuclear missile system
  • 4 submarines in the class guarantee that one is deployed operationally at any given time

Successor is the British programme to replace the 4 Vanguard submarines which have provided the continuous at sea deterrence since 1992 with 4 new submarines that will be built in the UK
the 4 Successor submarines will be introduced, on current plans from the 2030s onwards and have a lifespan of at least 30 years

The Trident missile

the Successor submarines will carry the Trident Missile System; Successor will be armed with existing Trident missile stocks which will not need replacing until the 2040s
Current costs

sustaining the nuclear deterrent in-service currently accounts for around 6% of the annual defence budget, equivalent to 0.13% of total government spending
Future costs

our latest estimate is that manufacturing the 4 Successor submarines is likely to cost a total of £31 billion (including inflation over the lifetime of the programme); we will also set a contingency of £10 billion

this is a prudent estimate based on past experience of large, complex projects, such as the 2012 Olympics


maintaining and sustaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent supports over 30,000 UK jobs and makes a significant contribution to the UK economy

  • Successor’s base at HMNB Clyde is one of the biggest employment sites in Scotland by 2020 Scotland will be home to all of the Royal Navy’s submarines
  • 6,800 military and civilian personnel are employed at the base bringing significant local commerce; this will rise to 8,200 by 2022
Obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty
  • as a recognised nuclear weapon state, the United Kingdom takes its international obligations to the NPT very seriously
  • the UK has reduced its nuclear forces by well over 50% since the end of the Cold War
  • the Successor programme will not add to the number of nuclear warheads in service
  • the UK holds less than 1% of the world’s total nuclear warhead stockpile
Term Definition
Ballistic missile A long range missile
CASD see, continuous at sea deterrence
Cold War The period of political and military tension between 1945 and 1991
continuous at sea deterrence The uninterrupted deployment of the UK’s nuclear deterrent at sea on board a submarine 365 days a year
deterrent A measure taken by a state to prevent hostile action by another state
4 boat system The method of rotating four submarines to ensure one is always operationally deployed
HMNB Clyde Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde is the Royal Navy’s submarine base at Faslane, Scotland
manifesto A public declaration of policy and aims issued before an election by a political party
NPT see Nuclear Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Proliferation Treaty International treaty of which the UK is a member whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament
nuclear weapon state A recognised nation that holds nuclear weapons
Operation Relentless The operation name given to the UK’s continuous at sea deterrence
Polaris Missile The original nuclear missile system carried by Resolution Class submarines from 1969 until the 1990s
Resolution Class The first class of 4 submarines that carried the UK’s continuous at sea deterrence
SDSR The Strategic Defence and Security Review
Successor The name of the programme to build a new class of submarines to carry the UK’s Trident nuclear missile system
SSBN A submarine armed with nuclear weapons (ship, submersible, ballistic, nuclear)
Trident Missile System The nuclear missile system carried by Vanguard Class submarines
Vanguard Class The present day class of 4 submarines that carry the UK’s continuous at sea deterrence
Warhead The nuclear explosive head of a missile

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