Secretary of State for Defence set to announce contract for next generation of nuclear-armed submarines

The Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, is set to announce plans for replacing the Vanguard Fleet, which carries the Trident Nuclear deterrent.

During an interview with the BBC on Sunday 17th of June, current Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, was quoted:

This is sustaining sovereign capability in the UK and some very high and technical skills in the UK for the next 40 to 50 years. The government’s policy is very clear – we are committed to maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent, and we are placing orders now […] for the long lead items that will be necessary to deliver a successor to the vanguard submarines in the late 2020’s. But the actual decision to go ahead and build them won’t be taken until 2016.

We have already done a review of options and value-for-money of the trident program and that concluded that replacing the vanguard submarines and continuing with trident was the best value solution to maintaining a nuclear deterrent. But the Liberal Democrats wanted to have another look, look at some emerging technologies, and Nick Harvey is leading a review to whether there are any. We are carrying on with the government’s policy [however, in order] to make sure that when we get to 2016, we can make that decision and all the long lead items will have been ordered.

Philip Hammond on the BBC's Sunday Politics

Philip Hammond on the BBC’s Sunday Politics – Watch the full interview here.


Sir Menzies Campbell, former Lib Dem leader and member of the Top Level Group, described the plans as “sensible”. He told the BBC:

The position of the Liberal Democrats before the last general election was that the cost of a like-for-like replacement of Trident was so great that it was necessary to examine alternatives…

That [review] is not affected by this announcement and even if there was no Trident submarine programme we would still have had to upgrade these facilities [at Derby] in order to ensure that the reactor cores for the Astute Class… were being properly constructed and in a safe environment.