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Nuclear Submarines

Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the additional costs are of (a) maintaining and protecting continuous at sea deterrence and (b) keeping a submarine-based nuclear force without continuous at sea deterrence. (123986)

As paragraphs 5-7 and 5-8 of the White Paper: ‘The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent’ (Cm 6994) make clear, our policy is to maintain continuous at sea deterrent patrolling to ensure our deterrent remains fully credible. There would, theoretically, be a number of alternative postures to continuous patrolling but we do not regard them as providing credible deterrence. However, for a given size of fleet, the cost difference between maintaining continuous deterrent patrolling and not doing so would potentially be relatively minor since the costs directly associated with operating the submarine on patrol are a very small proportion of the overall costs of maintaining, supporting and operating the deterrent. Total expenditure on the capital and running costs of the Trident nuclear deterrent, including the costs of the Atomic Weapons Establishment, in 2006-07 is expected to be around £1,500 million.