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Nuclear Submarines

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many warheads in the stockpile of operationally available warheads will be dismantled as a result of the reductions in the stockpile announced in the White Paper CM6994; and if he will make a statement. (108792)

The 20 per cent. reduction in the maximum number of operationally available warheads from fewer than 200 to fewer than 160, announced in the White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994) published on 4 December, will be matched by a corresponding number of warheads (ie about 40) being dismantled.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the procurement timeframe is for the programme to build new Vanguard-Class ballistic missile submarines; at what stage he expects main gate approval; and if he will make a statement. (108798)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) on 12 December 2006, Official Report, columns 395-96W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) planned service life at construction and (b) actual service life was for each decommissioned nuclear submarine that has been in service with the Royal Navy. (108805)

Information on the planned service life at construction of the Dreadnought, Valiant-Churchill and Resolution Classes of nuclear submarine is not readily available. The actual service life of vessels in these classes was as follows:

Vessel

Actual Service Life in Years

HMS Dreadnought

19

HMS Valiant

28

HMS Warspite

23

HMS Churchill

20

HMS Conqueror

21

HMS Courageous

21

HMS Resolution

27

HMS Repulse

28

HMS Renown

28

HMS Revenge

25

The Swiftsure Class of nuclear submarines were designed with a hull life at construction of at least 25 years. The actual service life of those vessels that have been withdrawn from service is as follows:

Vessel

Actual service life in years

HMS Swiftsure

18

HMS Sovereign

32

HMS Spartan

26

HMS Splendid

22

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate his Department has made of the cost of developing a new design of submarine reactor with a passive cooling system that could function without relying on cooling pumps. (108807)

The existing pressurised water reactors in Royal Navy submarines have a passive cooling system that functions without relying on main coolant pumps.