A contract worth in excess of £1 billion to deliver reactor cores for the UK’s nuclear-powered submarine fleet has been signed by the Ministry of Defence and Rolls-Royce.
The deal will see £600 million invested in producing nuclear reactor cores for HMS Ajax, the seventh (and final) Astute-class submarine and the next-generation fleet, known as the Successor class.
Rolls-Royce will undertake a phased rebuild of its Derby site as part of the contract, with the aim of creating a leading-edge manufacturing facility which will be able to support the MoD's future programmes.
The Raynesway site will benefit from £500 million of investment over the next 11 years, which will extend its lifespan by more than 40 years and protect hundreds of jobs.
Defence secretary Philip Hammond said: “This investment will secure the jobs of 300 highly skilled workers and will ensure that we retain the capability to build submarine nuclear power plants in the UK.
“The Raynesway site has played a key part in the production and maintenance of our nuclear deterrent for more than 50 years. This regeneration will make sure it continues to do so for many years to come.”
The announcement was interpreted by other political parties as a sign that the Conservatives plan to press ahead after the next general election with renewing the UK's capability to carry Trident missiles on submarines.
The new contract is opposed by the Liberal Democrats, who want a cheaper way of maintaining the weapons.
Angus Robertson, the Scottish National Party's leader at Westminster, also attacked the decision. He said: “This announcement paves the way for Trident renewal and it does so in the face of opposition in Scotland.
“The Westminster government is aware of these objections but it is ploughing on regardless. And then, at the end, it plans to dump this next generation of weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde. This is a democratic affront and it is an obscene waste of money.”
- Looking for defence industry vacancies? Visit our dedicated jobs board www.topengineeringjobs.com