The UK’s Secretary of Defense is set to announce a new one billion pound contract for building the reactors for the next generation of nuclear-armed submarines.
The deal is part of plans to replace the Vanguard fleet, which carries the Trident nuclear deterrent.
The work will be carried out at the Rolls-Royce factory at Raynesway, Derby, creating 300 jobs.
[Said an MOD spokesperson:] “Following a Trident value for money study carried out as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, we are proceeding with initial work to renew the nuclear deterrent, but a final decision will be taken in 2016.
“As part of the coalition government agreement a review is also being carried out into alternative systems for maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent.”
Specifically, the new billion pound contract to be announced by Defense Secretary Philip Hammond will fund two reactors, one for the seventh Astute Class attack submarine and one for the first of the new nuclear deterrent submarines.
The money will also be used to fund an 11-year refit of the Derby Rolls-Royce plant, which will carry out the highly technical work.
Earlier this year Mr Hammond awarded 350 million pounds to UK companies that would be involved in the redesign and refit.
The first of the four Vanguard submarines that carries the Trident missiles had been due to leave service in 2022, but it and its sister vessels had their service lives extended as part of a 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
The UK press has already started speculating that the move to pump more money into the Trident replacement project, prior to a decision of what should actually replace Trident which could come as late as after the next general election in 2016, may cause further tensions in the presiding Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government.
The Conservative government wishes to replace the nuclear deterrent in a like-for-like swap, to be completed by 2028, but the Lib Dems have made it clear that they are against such a move and would first want to explore cheaper alternatives.
The announcement of this contract may also anger peace protesters who, while of course making a claim based on non-violence, also advance that the country cannot afford this renewal of nuclear arms and that the money for the refit is being taken from other vital services such as health care and education. This is a charge the government has strongly denied.