London will spend nearly $500 million readying a shipyard to build a new fleet of strategic submarines, even though the vessels have yet to be formally approved.
After the next U.K. general election, the British government will decide in 2016 whether to go ahead with a "like-for-like" plan for modernizing the nation's sea-based nuclear deterrent force. Despite the lack of "final gate" approval for the plan, the Conservative Party-led government has already spent more than $1 billion on design-related work for the new ballistic-missile submarines.
The $498.5 million being invested to upgrade manufacturing facilities at the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard is coming almost entirely from the government, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman acknowledged to Defense News for a Thursday report.
The current ministry plan to replace four retiring Vanguard-class submarines with an equal number of replacement Successor-class vessels, similarly armed with Trident D-5 nuclear missiles, is estimated to come with a total price tag in excess of $30 billion in developmental, acquisition and maintenance-related costs.
"The Successor program, to replace the Vanguard-class submarines, remains subject to final approval in 2016, but it is vital we begin these improvements now in order to achieve the government’s target of having the first submarines in service by 2028," said Tony Johns, managing director of BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines.