Skip to main content

George Osborne fights MoD for control of Trident project

By DPF Admin13th November 2015August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

George Osborne is seeking to secure a decisive role for the Treasury in overseeing the construction of a new generation of nuclear-armed submarines amid fears that the Ministry of Defence has a poor track record in the delivery of major projects.

The government is expected to announce later this month that a special new body, modelled on the Olympic Delivery Authority, will be in charge of the decade-long project to replace the four Trident submarines. It will report to the Treasury.

The chancellor is understood to be keen to ensure that BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, two of the main companies involved in building the four Successor submarines, abide by a strict 10-year timetable to ensure they can replace the existing Vanguard submarines by 2028, according to the Times.

The Treasury is understood to believe that Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S), which runs major procurement projects for the MoD, has a patchy track record on submarines, according to the Times. The cost of building the new Astute-class of submarines has doubled to £9bn and the third of the seven submarines in the programme is years behind schedule, the paper reported.

Michael Fallon, the defence secretary and a close ally of the chancellor, is due to set a price for replacing the Trident fleet when he is expected to outline the first strategic defence and security review on 23 November. This will take place two days before the chancellor outlines his spending review.

The new Trident replacement is due to cost between £30-£40bn. MPs are due to be asked to approve the “maingate” phase of the project next year.

The new generation of submarines is designed to ensure that Britain will continue to have at least one nuclear-armed submarine on patrol at all times. The government believes that a “continuous at sea deterrent” can only be guaranteed by four submarines.

A government source said: “While we are not prepared to comment on the contents of a leaked document, the government remains committed to maintaining a continuous at sea deterrent, and to replacing the current Vanguard class of nuclear armed submarines with four Successor submarines. We will set out more detail with the publication of the strategic defence and security review.”

Rear Adm John Gower, a retired submariner, said that building a new generation of submarines is a task of epic proportions. Gower told the Times: “You have to fit, within a steel tube capable of silently surviving at great depth, the nuclear reactor and the propulsion and power generation trains, complex electrical, water, high pressure air and hydraulic systems.

“On top of that you have weapon systems, both tactical and strategic, electronics, computers and the sensors and sonars. After all of that, you must squeeze in people and the facilities for them to live for months at a time.”

The Scottish National party is due to hold a Commons debate on Trident later this month. It could table a vote to highlight divisions in the Labour party.

Source, image source

Leave a Reply

Close Menu