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Vanguard Submarines

Volume 454: debated on Thursday 14 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the decision was taken to reduce the life of Vanguard submarines to 25 years from the 30 years prescribed in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review; and if he will make a statement. (105415)

No such decision has been taken. The original requirement for the Vanguard class submarines was for a life of at least 25 years. Subsequently, the 1998 Strategic Defence Review said:

“We need to ensure that [Trident] can remain an effective deterrent for up to 30 years.”

Since 1998, we have undertaken a series of studies to refine our assessment of the potential in-service life of the Vanguard-class submarines. As described in the White Paper on the future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006, we now believe that it should be possible to extend their lives by around five years. This means that we will achieve the aspiration set out in the Strategic Defence Review.