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John Clark

Interesting article, they will certainly be ‘very’ impressive boats indeed….


Was it a cost cutting or political idea to only have 12 tubes?

Paul T

I think it was Conforming toTreaty Obligations.


Yes. The current boats only have a max of 12 missiles in their 16 tubes, but each missile can carry up to 12 warheads which later policy was downgraded to 3


Money saving no doubt… and we probably happily signed upto the treaty.. and does it have enough self defences? Heavyweight torpedoes can’t even go 15 miles can they. And I wonder what barrow will do after alll Astutes and dreadnoughts are built..


By the time all the Dreadnoughts are built, Barrow will have begun building SSN(R), Astute successor to all us mortals.

Supportive Bloke

Everyone thinks Barrow will be very, very busy for the foreseeable future.

The one thing Dom was right about was that we do not have enough submarines for the threat environment we are now in.


HWT can go well beyond 15 miles…


Heavyweight torpedoes can’t even go 15 miles can they”

Why is every comment you’ve posted here wrong Cam?


This sounds ridiculous. Our boats can only carry 12 missiles anyway due to treaty obligations, and it’s not like we’re going to have time to get our boomers back in port to add the 4 extra missiles in the case that nuclear war does start and the treaty collapses.

As for self defences?

I doubt anyone over a few miles away will even be able to detect Dreadnought, and that’s including our technologically advanced friends such as America… certainly our enemies wouldn’t be able to at even closer ranges. I might remind you Vanguard and Triomphant did not detect each other and had a minor accident.

Sonar 2076 is excellent and will spot any enemy boat before they spot us. The job of a boomer isn’t to eliminate other subs, it’s to stay concealed. At all costs.

Heavyweight torpedoes definitely can go 15 miles and longer; Spearfish is among the most advanced of these.

Barrow? I’d worry more about us not having enough build capacity as opposed to too few orders. That yard will have their hands full with Astute, then Dreadnought, then SSNR.


Outstanding article. Many thanks.


Hopefully the other tubes can carry perseus if needed


It’s generally thought to be a poor idea for your nuclear deterrent boats to carry anything other than self defence weapons in addition to their SLBM’s. You don’t want any confusion between a conventional sub attack and a strategic launch.


yanks have converted theirs to carry non nuclear land atack though..


Very true, and apparently very useful practical tools they are too. I just don’t think we have enough dreadnaughts to be splitting their tasking though, unfortunately…


US under treaty requirements was obliged to reduce the number of boomers or missile tubes ( or both)
Thus the conversion to SSNG for a small number . They are no longer classified as ‘strategic’ capable.

Simon Clark

Vanguard should be kept, as its being refuelled with new Core-H, as a conventional SSN following its final SSBN duties.
It could hold 64 Tomahawks VLS. it would relieve pressure on our Astutes (a little bit). But what a power-projector it could be!


The US have done that with the older Ohio class subs. A 7 round VLS was inserted into the Trident tube. Some of the Trident tubes were converted to lockout chambers for special forces. If we did the same to our Vangaurds that would give 14 tubes each with a 7 round VLS and two lockout chambers. I just do not know how much life is left inthe Vanguards.


They be clapped out.


They are clapped out, some pictures are shocking, tiles missing everywhere and we can barely keep a constant deterant, I wonder if in recent years if we have slipped on The constant at sea stuff…

Fat Bloke on Tour

Nail on the head — the MOD and its shocking attitude to maintenance.
Too much money spent on offices / in offices and not enough on the ships / vessels.


I wouldn’t pay to much store in the pictures, missing tiles are cosmetic, they are glued on, so constant compression and expansion eventually loosens them, and are repaired when back in harbour. Although that is highly weather dependent as the glue needs time to cure.
Clapped out is a tad strong, yes they have covered some miles, but a rigourous maintenance routine ensures they can sail and keep CASD, despite what some might think.


Taiwan has two WW2 ex-USN submarines that are still operational at over 70 years old. Granted, they don’t do much more than training, and in war would be used strictly in the littoral, but it’s an interesting example of what’s achievable.

So long as the pressure hull is metalurgically sound and the reactor can be safely operated, the problem with the Vanguards would be in their components. You would have to decide whether stripping out one or two of the hulls and rebuilding the interior with new equipment would be, A. possible without compromising reactor safety and, B. cost-effective.

One could argue for cost-effective based on the fact that these are capital assets, long paid for, and that making the hulls is one of the more expensive processes, so there might be money saved converting them to SSGNs over building a brand new one.

However, could you rebuild it without cutting holes in the hull to move stuff in and out?

And remember, time and technology don’t stand still. Vanguard’s basic hull design and propulsion system, including the tail planes, will be 40 years old. This won’t be a littoral combat/training sub. This will be a front line unit. Would this design be competitive/survivable in the modern world?


The core may be quite new but what of the rest of the boat?


“HMS Vanguard is currently completing her much delayed major refit and refuelling in Devonport but will be 37 years old by 2030 and in desperate need of replacement”

And how old will the Ohio’s be by then?

Paul T

Wiki says the USS Ohio will be just Shy of 50 years Old in 2030.


Exactly, so why does our kit seem to not be able to last as long?


The USN spent considerable money converting and upgrading Ohio and 3 sisters to the SSGN role instead of retiring them from 2003.
Other SSN have been retired around 20 yrs or less.
The oldest actual SSBN in service is USS Henry Jackson , currently 36 yrs old, the youngest is USS Louisiana at 23 yrs.
Vanguard is currently 27 yrs since commission.
The USS Columbia , named for the District of Columbia is followed by USS Wisconsin is under construction with large new buildings for final assembly at Groton and Newport News to be built as well


For submarines its all about the number of dives and time spent at depth. The RN runs its boats hard, particularly the V Boats. No difference in quality between RN and USN subs.


It’s the B-52 paradigm. Why are there still B-52s flying? Similar reasons to why some of the Ohios were worth keeping and converting. The USN built 18 Ohios so, individually, they have had slightly less stressful lives with much more slack in the deployment rotation for things like breakdowns, maintenance and refit than the RN boats, even allowing for the fact that several were on deployment simultaneously.

In the first decade of C21 Ohio class patrols were cut by half (source: Federation of American Scientists) because the Russian threat wasn’t there, and the Chinese threat hadn’t yet emerged. That alone saved a lot of hull life and reduced component fatigue.

The Vanguards had no such luxury because there were only four of them.

Last edited 3 years ago by MSR

I would love to visit a vanguard after decommissioning, a museum would be amazing but if we can’t save basic destroyers or frigates what hope of a vanguard.


Submarines are pretty much of a muchness to be honest. A big tube full of lots little tubes. There isn’t much difference between a diesel-electric boat and a nuclear one. And the bit that is interesting, the kettle, you will never see.


Those who have designed them say there were new technologies almost as difficult as the reactor core . Like having a steam driven turbine which has to be condensed using outside sea water all done at greater depths than electric conventional subs which are more or less sealed while underwater. If its not perfect you end up like the Thresher. as well A battery array and diesel generators was provided as backup.
From the literature , its said the air purification for the much longer under water times was a challenge.
It seems the Australians are having considerable challenges, even with French technical lead with a back conversion of the nuclear Barracuda ( or Suffren) type to a conventional power.
Saying the two types ‘arent much difference’ is uninformed speculation.


To the casual museum visitor, who this point is about, they would be though I suspect. Even the informed museum visitor probably wouldn’t be able see much of anything.


Exactly. There isn’t much to see really.


You would be surprised to discover just how little there is to actually see. People would be very disappointed I imagine.
Tunnel – passes over the RC links fwd with aft, a view port (in the floor) into the RC, some stainless steel pipework, and the plug – door into the RC.
Missile compartment – 2 rows of white painted tubes some 7 1/2 ft in width, with bunkspaces and washrooms on one level, access hatches and monitoring panels on the others, so pretty uneventful really.
Engine room is an engine room with lots of kit, but visitors rent allowed back there, so visits are restricted to the front end.


Why are you telling me there isn’t much to see when I said it my original reply to Cam?

I have been in O, S, and T boats. I know there isn’t much to see.


Wasn’t actually aimed at you, just joined bottom of the thread instead of replying specifically to Cam. I know you have been on boats, my apologies.


ive also been in subs, but never a nuclear armed submarine, just like mist in here, the atmosphere in One must be amazing


Saying the two types ‘arent much difference’ is uninformed speculation.”

Came here to say this. What a divvie.


Why can’t we export submarines like other nations… we have the tech and brains..


Very few nations operate nuclear subs and those that do tend to build their own due to the sensitivity of the tech and the need to keep it sovereign.


I never meant export nuclear submarines I meant non nuclear.


Never mentioned non-nuclear either. Are you thick?


I never heard, that any nation importet nuclear-powered submarines. They need a complex industrial support for their duties. The import-nation would always be dependet on the UK. For the most nations it would be a problem. And look at the price for nuclear-powered submarines, who would want to spend that much money abroad?

And to be honest, die last diesel-electric submarine class in for the royal navy was introduced nearly 30 years ago. When you look at the evolution of diesel-electric subs, than it’s a long periode of time…


I meant diesel electric ect not nuclear, if we can build nuclear we can build non.


As much as I’d like to agree, I don’t think it’s that simple. We’ve been out of the SSK game since we retired the Upholders in the early 90’s. So, we have very little recent SSK design/build experience, which our neighbour’s across the channel have loads of, so we would be at a huge disadvantage if we tried to build some to sell.
I’m only guessing, but I think we would have to buy some before we stood any chance of selling any, so probably a non starter just for that.


Hi, just because the ROYAL NAVY haven’t had non nuclear doesn’t mean our nations company’s are out of the game… on the contrary….

Allan Desmond

Yes it does , what a stupid lazy comment.


India ‘leased’ a russian nuclear submarine for a while


Yes, what they did to train their personal on nuclear Submarines before the first domestic produced submarines will be put into service.


French sold Australia a diesel-electric version of their Suffren Class (build under license in Australia much like the plan with with T26s)

Fat Bloke on Tour

The whole article reeks of MOD / RN unworldliness and supply chain troughing and in-efficiency.

All we seem to have is a glacial design and build process — where else in the world would it take 6 years to re-clad a shed and put in new skylights?

Surely it would have been cheaper to build a new ship lift and building hall frowm scratch?

And then you have the naming issues — surely KGVI was a politically inspired doppelganger put on the throne because the establishment couldn’t put up with a american divorcee in the Royal family.

The issue is 84 years old and now he gets his name on a ship.
Says a lot about the state of the nation that he gets a ship now rather than WW2.

Huge project but also a huge overspend.


A politically inspired doppelganger who took upon himself the responsibilities and challenges that his brother wouldn’t? One that garnered much admiration for leading the country through a world war?

As to not getting a ship named after him during WW2 it has always been British practice to wait a long while before naming ships after people unlike the American practice.


Hey, fat bloke, stay on tour. You don’t ‘put someone on the throne’. Succession dictates the next in line and KG VI stood up and was counted when he was called (regardless of the context). I’m not holding my breath that you ever would!

Fat Bloke on Tour

Tell that to his father — KGV No.1 into the water 3 years after he got the big job.

For various reasons KGVI has been returned to the shadows.
The turkey baster jibe was unfair but it has stuck around.

No matter we should not be naming a ship / sub after him.


The names of the first 3 battleship class were originally KGV, King Edward VIII and Duke of York.
After the abdication the new King George VI had the second in class changed to PoW.
All HMS names require pre-approval from the sovereign. I would think the new KGVI was the Queens idea. Personally I would preferred Duke of Edinburgh if a suitable modern royal name was wanted, or even Alfred the Great. Its a while away till construction starts so it could still change when a new King arrives ?

David Barry

So Prince of Wales and Queen Elizabeth are named after who then?


I would imagine the DDH will be going through an upgrade package bigger than mentioned in the article. At the same time it needs to be lengthened to the road at the rear and can’t at any stage get in the way of production of the last A class and first ‘BN.

Throw in there is not enough space to build an entirely new hall, which is one of the largest assembly halls in the whole of Europe and timings begin to make more sense. Still if you would rather believe the Daily Mail or your crab fat mates then carry on.

Fat Bloke on Tour

Resting on the seabed — surely that is giving away too much information regarding its patroling habits?


Seriously ????????


I wouldn’t read to much into that little revelation, RN Nuc SM’s do not rest on the seabed, I’d be very surprised given their size that these will either.

Supportive Bloke

I think the point is that it **can** rest on the sea bed if certain things happen or need to happen.


The vast majority of worlds oceans will be too deep for a RN nuc to be anywhere near the seabed. The maximum operational depth isnt known to us but we can assume around the 300m for our purposes. Shallow seas like the North and Irish Sea are too vulnerable for operational work but are Ok for transit.
Then there is those pumps for the condenser cooling, getting them full of mud would be a nono. Many years back wasnt it was a UK first to have the forward motion to provide water impulse into the cooling system and avoid the distinctive long range noise transmission of cooling pumps


Interesting Russian exercise just yesterday. Salvo launch of 4 SLBM from a boat in the Far East. The You tube video shows at least 3 in the air at once from one vantage point
I vaguely remember decades ago one of the Typhoons did a 12 missile test salvo launch.

Fat Bloke on Tour

Still not getting the £36bill budget — bit on the high side for 2.5G tech.
Could we not have built to print another set of Vanguards?
Missile tubes are nothing new or special.

Also what is the buget for the pwertrain / reactor?
Surely RR has some level of ingrained corporate knowledge?
Or failing that could we not have asked the French?
We could have paid for it in fish.

Big issue not getting much traction — do we still have a continuous / on patrol nuclear capability or since the days of the ConDemNation cuts have we been winging it a bit?

JC was never going to put up a fuss.

Julian Edmonds

Should have been named HMS Margaret Thatcher.


Nah, She can’t do “U Turns” ……….

Navy Guy

Just want to say the articles on here are really top notch. Not just the information, but the page layout, photos, etc…

criss whicker

What a pity we could not build more Astute subs,

we surely need at least another 12-15 subs do we not…


Submarines don’t roll away from a turn as mentioned in the article. They roll into the turn. Alter to port and the boat will roll to port much like a plane banks the way it alters.

It’s to do with the centre of gravity thus a ships rolls away from a turn as it COG is higher up and a boat rolls into its turn as its COG is very low.

Mr D Holder

Being aware of 1st class MOD the C O of all involved need to be 101% confirmed ,C P N for our safety in design. Your facts to date re, engineering fantastic ,great to read G B supporting the world .


Australia should request to co-build dreadnought & supply workforce to live & be educated, skilled up & trained in & by U.K. Australian replica construction facilities to be built in parallel under U.K. oversight & construction of aus dreadnought to be overseen by U.K. teams as required.

The once trained & skilled up etc. Australian construction facilities would be built replicating U.K.s exactly. Australia would then be able to build its own in country dreadnoughts & could also enable a U.K./Aus workforce inerchangeprogram.

Australia needs to request inclusion & incorporation in the dreadnought build program !!!!!!


Great article. I really didn’t know much about the shipyard, so this was very helpful.
I hope that the tooling for the Astutes can be shipped off to Australia for their SSNs, as I’m sure that the RAN will not be able to afford any version of the Virginia class SSNs.