Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trident replacement design contract delayed

A design contract for the Vanguard SSBN replacement submarines has been delayed. Originally it was to have been signed in September but now it will be delayed until the non-proliferation treaty conference in New York next year. Possibly a sop to the Communists in the Labour party (which is most of them, including the PM) and of course allows the government to delay committing to spending money so they don't feel so bad about it (rather like the small boy who has broken a window and knows he has to admit to doing it eventually but hides in the corner and puts it off). It will also give them more time to see if they can just build 3 boats instead of 4 of course.


Roderick said...


For over 2-years, the UK has been working with the US in the design and construction of vital components to be used in both countries' new-nuclear-submarine programmes, such as a 'common missile compartment':


Considering that each of the Royal Navy's 4 current Vanguard nuclear missile (Trident) submarines has 16 missile tubes, equaling 64 missile tubes in total, and recognizing that Premier Brown has recently 'decreed' that the submarines which are built to replace Vanguards will only have 12 missile tubes-

.... even if 4 Vanguard replacements are built (rather than 3) their total number of missile tubes will be only 48 (4 X 12) which equals the total number of missile tubes of 3 of today's Vanguards: 3 X 16= 48...

So, what is the point??

Achieving the PM's alleged 'reduction in the UK's nuclear missile launch capabilities' objectives doesn't require building only 3 new subs to replace today's 4 Vanguards since the new subs- at least today- are intended to each have 25% less missile carrying capacity than Vanguards (12 versus 16)...

4 of the (undergoing functional-design) new Trident missile-carrying subs are currently planned to have (only), in total, the same number of missile tubes as 3 of today's Trident missile-carrying Vanguards (48)....

Better for the UK to formally work with the United States in their nascent project to replace the US Navy's existing 18 Ohio class Trident nuclear missile-carrying submarines, and build at least 4 Vanguard-replacements for the Royal Navy- each one with capacities for 24 missile tube slots (similar to today's Ohio's capacities, and the planned capacities of Ohio replacements), and if- for periods during the lifespan of the new subs- it was adjudged that all 24 missile tubes on each new sub were not needed, then not-required missile tubes could be used for something else:

- swapped out for conventional warhead cruise missiles;

- unmanned underwater vehichles;

- special forces' deployment pods;

and the like...

Several Ohio's have had this done during 1996-2007, and as a result ceased being Trident nuclear ballistic missile carrying subs and now are usefully deployed as conventional warhead Tomahawk cruise missile-carrying/special forces' units-carrying subs:

Rather than having the UK's Vanguard-successor submarines limited to only being assignable to carrying nuclear missiles- because with their 12 missile tubes each- and consequently very limited on-board space for hardware, armaments, etc- they are only able to be assigned to carrying Trident missiles.... wouldn't it make more sense to have these vessels built large enough so each vessel had space for 24 missile tubes each- and, if circumstances allowed or demanded- use 1/2 (12) for Trident missiles, and the other 1/2 (12) for conventional weapons such as Tomahawk cruise missiles, UUV's, UAV's, delivery of special forces to missions overseas, etc??

Or build 6 or 7 Vanguard replacement subs, with each vessel having space for 24 missile tubes, and use three of the Vanguard replacements as tactical-weapons' subs (that could be quickly and cheaply converted back to nuclear weapons Trident subs, if the need arose?

Roderick V. Louis
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Roderick said...

Since 2001 the UK has reduced its deployable nuclear warheads by over 50% (over 300 to under 160), and has the least nuclear weapons of all the 'world's 5 major nuclear powers', IE- the USA, Russia, China, France and the UK:

The present Royal Navy Vanguard submarine based UK nuclear deterrent consists of 4 Vanguard submarines, with each submarine having 16 missile tubes- each missile tube capable of launching 1 Trident nuclear missile...

In other words- IN THEORY*- the UK's total nuclear deterrent today in 2009 is 64 submarine launched nuclear missiles...

* IN THEORY because: of the RN's four Vanguard class Trident-nuclear missile submarines- on any given day as (for over 1/2 a decade) regularly as few as only one of these 4 integral-to-the-country's defence and 'world-profile' vessels is operational- :

"The Royal Navy is cannibalizing parts from various ships and (Trident nuclear missile/Vanguard) submarines to keep other vessels afloat and operational it has emerged..."

"... The revelation that the (present Trident/Vanguard submarine) nuclear deterrent is being gutted for parts is particularly worrisome. If there was a national or international emergency some of the Vanguard class submarines would most likely have to be left in the docks since they would most likely be missing parts crucial to the sub’s operations....": :

"Some commanders may feel uneasy about (reducing Trident carrying subs from 4 to 3) given the fact that recently two of the (present Vanguard)submarines were out of service due to major repairs. In the future a similar scenario could leave Britain with one or zero active nuclear deterrent submarines..."

Prime minister Brown recently 'decreed' that the UK's new Trident system submarines, when built, will each have only 12 missile tubes- instead of the Vanguard's 16- or the US Navy's Ohio class submarines' 24- :

"The UK's next-generation ballistic-missile submarines will have 12 missile tubes rather than the 16 aboard the existing Vanguard-class Trident-armed submarines"

64 missile tubes with the present 4 Vanguard submarines-based Trident system


only 36 missile tubes with the apparent Labour & MoD toadies' preferred system: 3 Vanguard-successor submarines/& their new Trident missiles->>

= almost a 50% reduction in the UK's nuclear deterent, and all without a parliamentary or public debate or public consultation/advisement...

The UK govt using the always controversial nuclear disarmament topic to distract UK voters from Labour's egregious policy errors- & to simultaneously arbitrarily reduce the UK's relatively tiny nuclear deterent- rather than enabling an informed public discussion regarding the size and shape of the country's future nuclear forces is not only gross hypocrisy but also ignores contemporary facts:

1) "Red alert - China modernises its nuclear missile force"

Beijing is now deploying or developing up to five intercontinental nuclear-armed ballistic missiles in what amounts to China's most ambitious increase in intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability since the late 1980s... :

2) Russia is rearming itself and selling masses of hardware/warships to countries like India, Brazil & China...

Not to mention comparitively huge sales of advanced submarines, Frigates and similar vessels by France and Germany to many non-NATO nations... such as India, Singapore, Vietnam and many Persian Gulf countries...

Roderick V. Louis,
Vancouver, Canada

Chris said...

Yeah we covered the common missile component before