Nuclear deterrent submarines to be redesigned

The design of the Royal Navy's new fleet of submarines has been given the green light.

Defence secretary Dr Liam Fox announced that approval had been granted for early designs to commence for the replacement of the current fleet which will be out of date in 2030. The new designs would deliver the UK's nuclear deterrent into and beyond the 2060s, suggesting that navy personnel may need extended military insurance, with the government's long-term commitment to the armed forces.

The new designs are set to incorporate state of the art nuclear propulsion system known as the Pressurised Water Reactor 3 that will provide a more cost effective and longer-lasting propulsion system.

The main build decision, however, will not be taken until 2016, as the recent announcement is just an approval of early phases of design. Dr Fox did say, however, that £3billion of initial contracts had already been made. He told mod.uk, "The continuous at sea deterrent is the ultimate guarantee of our national security and for the past 42 years the Royal Navy has operated continuous patrols to ensure just that."

"We don't know how the international environment will change over the next 50 years and we cannot dismiss the possibility that a direct nuclear threat to the UK might emerge. It is simply not the right time to unilaterally give this capability up. The programme of great national importance will also secure the future of one of Britain's major manufacturing sectors."

The development of these submarines would bring jobs to the economy, with estimates claiming that new job creation could reach the thousands. They could also provide a cheaper force for the UK to run.

Rear Admiral Simon Lister, the MOD's Director of Submarines explained: "While the pressurised water reactor used in our existing submarines is a robust, highly controlled system that meets our stringent safety standards," he told defpro.com, "the new Pressurised Water Reactor 3 will deliver further improvements such as ease of operation and lower costs over its extended life."

Written by David Howells

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