HMS Vengeance: £350m sub refit 'to secure 2,000 jobs'

A £350m contract to refit and refuel a Royal Navy nuclear missile submarine will safeguard up to 2,000 UK jobs, the defence secretary is to announce.

Philip Hammond will say at a Plymouth dockyard that defence firm Babcock will upgrade HMS Vengeance.

The Ministry of Defence said work on the Vanguard class vessel will secure 1,000 jobs at Babcock, 300 at other firms in Plymouth, and 700 elsewhere.

Workers in Plymouth had criticised defence chiefs for "delaying" the deal.

Mr Hammond is expected to announce: "As well as securing 2,000 UK jobs, this contract will ensure the nuclear deterrent submarine fleet can continue to operate safely and effectively to maintain a continuous at-sea deterrent.

'Further negotiation'

"As we stabilise the defence budget we are increasingly able to commit to equipment projects to safeguard the UK's national security.

"Devonport Dockyard is at the heart of maintaining and supporting the Royal Navy and I am pleased that such a large number of jobs will be protected."

Work on the 15,000-tonne vessel will include a complete overhaul of equipment, improved missile launch capabilities and upgraded computer systems.

A new reactor core will also be fitted that will last the submarine until she is decommissioned.

"This contract marks the final phase of what has proved to be a very successful programme of refuelling our fleet of nuclear submarines," Rear Adm Simon Lister will say.

"The highly sophisticated nature of the work involved in the deep maintenance of these magnificent vessels is testament to the experience and skills of the workforce here in Devonport and those in the supply chain across the UK."

Alison Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, said she welcomed the news but she questioned why the contract had failed to materialise before now despite the submarine docking at Devonport Dockyard on 2 March.

"There was no obvious reason why, given refits are planned years in advance, there should be a delay. I am given to understand there was further negotiation going on between Babcock and the MoD," she said.

"I don't think it is a good way to do business and I will be interested to hear what the Secretary of State has to say when he is at Babcock."

HMS Vengeance is the newest of the four Trident-carrying strategic missile submarines that make up the UK's nuclear deterrent force.

Plymouth's Devonport Dockyard has a £5bn deal to refit the Vanguard class vessels.

They are berthed in a specially-converted dock because they are too big for the yard's other docks at 150m (492ft) long.

In comparison, Devonport Naval Base's Trafalgar class submarines are 85m (279ft) long.

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