The British and US navies are working together to build a new pre-dreadnought submarine

The Royal Navy battleship HMS Dreadnought in 1907.
Symonds and Co Collection / Imperial War Museums

  • Britain’s Royal Navy is building a new class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.
  • British submarines will have the same missile compartment as the new US Navy missile submarines.
  • The name of the new submarines refers to the first Dreadnought, a battleship that redefined naval warfare.

In 1906 commissioned by the British Royal Navy HMS Dreadnoughta battleship that changed the way surface warships are designed and sparked a naval arms race.

Armed with five turrets carrying twin 12-inch guns and featuring new technologies such as steam turbines and electronic fire control equipment, HMS Dreadnought became the standard upon which future battleships were based and separated the “dreadnought” and “dreadnought” eras.

Long after the Battleship era ended, the Dreadnought name is still being identified. Royal Navy The first nuclear powered submarinein service from 1963 to 1980, was also called HMS Dreadnought.

Now, more than 100 years after the first Dreadnought, another is in the works. This is the first of new row From nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines, it will once again usher in a new era of warships for Britain.

deterrent at sea

Royal Navy submarine HMS Dreadnought in April 1963.
SSPL / Getty Images

Britain’s new class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, designated as SSBNs, will fill a looming gap in the country’s nuclear deterrence.

While other nuclear-armed nations use a trinity of delivery systems—land-launched, air-launched, sea-launched—to ensure that their nuclear capabilities will survive attack and thus ensure a reliable nuclear deterrent, Britain has relied solely on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Since 1998, when it retired the use of nuclear gravity bombs that it dropped from the air.

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The Royal Navy had at least one SSBN on patrol as part of Operation Relentless, British Continuing in the deterrent sea, since 1969, making it the longest continuous military operation in the country. The current British SSBN strength consisted of four Vanguard class Submarines built between 1986 and 1998.

The fatigue of decades of near-continuous publishing processes has taken its toll on the avant-garde. Originally intended to operate for 25 years, their service life for submarines has been extended three times. Her total age is now expected to be between 37 and 38 years old.

Vanguard submarine of HMS Victorious near Faslane in April 2013.
British Ministry of Defence

In 2007, the British Parliament approved a plan for four new SSBNs to replace the Vanguard. After years of design work, construction of the first boat, HMS Dreadnought, began in 2016.

To ensure the successful and efficient construction and delivery of the new class, the Department of Defense established Submarine delivery agency in 2017 to serve as the implementing agency responsible for the procurement, in-service support and decommissioning of all Royal Navy nuclear submarines.

A year later, the two companies contracted to build the Dreadnought, BAE Systems and Rolls Royce, formed the “Dreadnought Alliance,” a business arrangement that ensured ongoing communication and cooperation between the two companies, including on such things as a shared cost model, mutually agreed upon scheduling and detailing of work and procedures. Reports preparation.

Armored class

A 2016 version of a ballistic missile submarine intended to replace the Vanguard class.
British Royal Navy

At nearly 500 feet long and displacing 17,200 tons, the Dreadnoughts would be the largest submarines ever built by the United Kingdom. Each boat will have a minimum life of 30 years.

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Each vehicle will be powered by a PWR3 reactor, a new nuclear reactor built by Rolls-Royce. They will have too X-shaped rudders and a new turbocharged electric motor driving an improved engine Jet propulsion pumpprobably making them quieter than their Vanguard-class predecessors.

Along with the dampening features of their propulsion systems, Dreadnoughts will have an angular design intended to deflect active sonar waves, making them more stealthy. Concepts Pictures Indicates That Dreadnoughts would also be encased in anechoic tiles, which are designed to absorb incoming active sonar waves and reduce noise from the submarine that could be picked up by passive sonar.

Royal Navy too planning to equip Dreadnought submarines with light masts – a high-tech alternative to the conventional periscope already used on Astute-class submarines.

A Trident 2D-5 missile is launched from a US Navy Ohio-class submarine during a test.
Getty Images

Dreadnoughts would have four 21-inch torpedo tubes and could be carried Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes. However, their main armament would be the 12 Trident II D5 Ballistic missiles—four fewer than those on Vanguard-class submarines—carry Mk4/A “Holbrook” nuclear warheads.

Missiles will be stored and launched from the common missile bay. CMC is a joint US-UK defense project that began in 2008 to create a joint launch system for all future US and UK SSBNs. Each CMC contains four missile silos. Dreadnoughts will be equipped with three CMCs, while the US Navy’s Columbia-class boats will have four.

Aside from the CMC project, the UK is also participating in the US Navy’s Trident II D5 Life Extension programme, which aims to extend the missile’s service life into the early 1960s. The British government had earlier indicated that the Tridents would need to be replaced in the 1940s.

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future fleet

Royal Navy sub attack HMS Astute after her launch at Barrow-in-Furness shipyard in June 2007.
Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Four Dreadnought-class submarines, the Dreadnought, Valiant, Warspite and King George VI, will be built. Building Valiant started in 2019 and work on Warspite seem in feb.

In May 2022, the Ministry of Defense announced that the Dreadnought had entered Delivery Phase 3, during which the submarine would eventually leave BAE’s shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness for sea trials, yielding lessons It will be applied to build other Dreadnought-class submarines. The Royal Navy plans to commission HMS Dreadnought sometime in the early 2030s.

In addition to being the largest British submarines ever built, the Dreadnought-class would be one of the most expensive defense projects in British history.

Building the four submarines is expected to cost just over $39.5 billion, a total that includes inflation over the 35-year life of the program. The British government has also created an emergency fund of about $12.75 billion, money that could be “remodel“To keep the program on track. The Department of Defense has already taken about 20% of the fund.

While the British legislators Expressed concern In its 2022 update to Parliament, the ministry said the MoD would view the contingency fund as “a blank check, freeing it from the need to control costs”. Posted in MarchThat the program remains on schedule and within the estimated cost.

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