ICAN Scottish Partner

Latest Events

Donate to SCND

Amount to donate:
£  GBP  




ScrapTrident


Trident Replacement Faces Time and Cost Risks

 The UK risks delays in deploying a nuclear deterrent unless it keeps tight control of developing and budgeting for a new fleet of nuclear submarines, according to the National Audit Office. They say the project to build three or four new submarines faced considerable challenges if it is to be completed on time and on budget.

It said the Ministry of Defence had made good progress so far but highlighted risks ahead, including design decisions and maintaining strict financial controls.

"These risks are inter-dependent but each alone has the potential to undermine the department's ability to deliver continuous at-sea deterrence in the future," .

The present Vanguard class of submarines is likely to start leaving service from the early 2020s and plans call for its successor to be in service by 2024.  

"They sound long time scales, they're not. We haven't got any slack, so if things start to go wrong, people don't make timely decisions, then there are going to be risks," Tom Banfield, one of the report's authors, told a news conference.

The Defence Ministry is banking on extending the life of the existing submarines by five years but the audit office called for more study on how long they could be safely kept in service.

"Meeting the in-service date is a challenge, but every avenue to reduce both time and cost is being pursued," Defence Secretary John Hutton said in response to the report.

The UK risks delays in deploying a nuclear deterrent unless it keeps tight control of developing and budgeting for a new fleet of nuclear submarines, according to the National Audit Office. They say the project to build three or four new submarines faced considerable challenges if it is to be completed on time and on budget.

It said the Ministry of Defence had made good progress so far but highlighted risks ahead, including design decisions and maintaining strict financial controls.

"These risks are inter-dependent but each alone has the potential to undermine the department's ability to deliver continuous at-sea deterrence in the future," .

The present Vanguard class of submarines is likely to start leaving service from the early 2020s and plans call for its successor to be in service by 2024.  

"They sound long time scales, they're not. We haven't got any slack, so if things start to go wrong, people don't make timely decisions, then there are going to be risks," Tom Banfield, one of the report's authors, told a news conference.

The Defence Ministry is banking on extending the life of the existing submarines by five years but the audit office called for more study on how long they could be safely kept in service.

One problem is that the UK buys Trident missiles from the US which also maintains them. The new Trident system is due to become operational in 2024. Yet the US is planning to build a new kind of missile in 2042, leaving the costly prospect of Britain having to adapt its submarines to a new US weapons system, the report warns.

"Meeting the in-service date is a challenge, but every avenue to reduce both time and cost is being pursued," Defence Secretary John Hutton said in response to the report.

The report said the Defence Ministry needed to update its initial cost predictions. The submarine industry was dominated by a few suppliers, creating difficulties in providing the right incentives for them to deliver to time and budget.

BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce were the likely suppliers for the new submarines and nuclear reactors though they had not yet been selected.

Britain's last submarine project, the Astute programme, suffered a delay of 41 months and cost overruns of 1.2 billion pounds, the report said.

Add comment


Security code
Refresh