Protected against the stormy elements by what was described by the Royal Navy as ‘the world’s largest black bin bag’, part of a ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) was moved (Oct 23) with great care through the town of Barrow-in-Furness.
The contrast between the substantial section of the future HMS Dreadnought and houses in the north-western England town on the Irish Sea, where British submarines have been built for more than a century, was truly striking (and a touch surreal).
It was the largest mega unit of Dreadnought yet completed and also the longest section of the boat moved from BAE Systems’ fabrication facility to the cavernous Devonshire Dock Hall (DDH) – 260 metres long, 58m wide and 51m high. The DDH is where UK submarines are integrated as whole vessels, and which dominates the skyline of the Cumbrian community.
Nobody at BAES Submarines had moved such a huge section in 30 years, not since a low-loader carefully transported the 34- metre-long fore-end mega unit of HMS Vengeance, the last of the four current Vanguard Class submarines. The mega unit of Dreadnought – first and name vessel of four new SSBNs for the RN – was a mere (!) 22 metres long. Sister vessels Warspite and Valiant are also under construction, though work has yet to begin on King George VI. Meanwhile, also inside the DDH the final two Astute Class attack submarines – Agamemnon and Agincourt – are in the later stages of construction.
Dreadnought is due to enter service in the early 2030s as the current Vanguard Class boats are phased out and the mantle of carrying the UK strategic deterrent is worn by the new ‘bombers’.