Alan Tovey, Telegraph
21 October 2015
The fleet of Successor class submarines must be built on time and on budget as "our adversaries won't wait" Defence Secretary warns
British industry has been warned the country’s national security will be at risk if work on the planned new generation of nuclear submarines goes over budget or hits construction delays.
Firing a shot across the bows of the country’s arms manufacturers and companies in their supply chains, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon highlighted the dangers of “failing to deliver” on the nuclear Successor class submarines for the Royal Navy, which will replace the existing fleet of Vanguard class boats.
Detailing how Britain’s nuclear deterrent had protected the country for 60 years, the minister said: "Cold war certainties have been replaced by an unpredictable new nuclear age defined by weapons proliferation, more nuclear states, and rogue nations wanting nuclear weapons and the technology to develop them.”
Citing an “expansionist Russia” commissioning nuclear submarines and North Korea conducting atomic tests, Mr Fallon said that the Government’s “first duty is protection of the UK“, adding Britain must have a “credible, operationally independent, continuous-at-sea deterrent” to do this.
Plans for the £11bn to £14bn Successor programme of up to four new 16,000 tonne nuclear missile submarines to replace the ageing Vanguard vessels have yet to get the green light.
However, ahead of a final decision set for next year, the Government has already invested heavily in items with long lead times that are necessary to build the new fleet.
It (Other OTC: ITGL - news) has also funded expansion of BAE Systems (LSE: BA.L - news) ’ submarine construction yard at Barrow in Furness.
But Mr Fallon warned that failures by industry to construct the new submarines on time and on budget, should they they get the final go-ahead, could put the UK’s safety at risk.
The “other risk to our [nuclear] deterrent”, is “industry failing to deliver”, the Defence Secretary said.
"There can be no failure to meet build times, no overrunning costs, no excuses,” he said. “Our adversaries are not going to wait.”
Describing the Successor as a “national endeavour”, he called on “politicians, unions and the business community to put aside politics in the national interest”.
The current programme by BAE to build new Astute-class attack submarines is overrunning, Mr Fallon said, but added this cannot happen with the new fleet.
“Be in no doubt, our new submarines are late but our new ballistic submarines cannot be,” he said.
A spokesman for BAE said: "BAE Systems is proud to design, build and commission the submarines which enable the UK to maintain a position of continuous at sea deterrence. We are committed to working with the Government and the broader submarines enterprise to maximise value for money whilst delivering leading capabilities on this important programme."