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HMS Vengeance (Long Overhaul Period)

Volume 542: debated on Monday 26 March 2012

I wish to inform the House that the Ministry of Defence has signed a contract valued at £350 million with Babcock Marine Ltd for the long overhaul period (Refuelling) (LOP(R)) for HMS Vengeance, to take place at Devonport dockyard, Plymouth. HMS Vengeance is one of the four Vanguard class submarines carrying Trident missiles which provide the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent.

The LOP(R) is essential to enable HMS Vengeance to remain operational. The Work programme, which is scheduled to last approximately three and a half years, will involve the installation of a new reactor core, the energy source that powers the 15,000 tonne vessel. The new core will provide the submarine with sufficient fuel for the remainder of her planned service life. The LOP(R) will also include the installation of improved strategic weapons system equipment and the integration of a tactical weapons submarine command system. The LOP(R) will also enable Vengeance to achieve safety re-certification.

The awarding of the £350 million contract will secure around 1,300 jobs in Devonport dockyard, with a further 700 in the supply chain. It will ensure that Devonport remains a centre of engineering excellence, preserving the UK’s sovereign capability and many highly skilled jobs for years to come. The contract has been awarded using an improved performance-based contracting strategy agreed as part of the Babcock marine terms of business agreement, which aims to return significant savings of several hundred million pounds to the MOD over the 15-year duration of the agreement.

This is the last time the Royal Navy’s submarines will require refuelling, as newer classes of submarines are designed with sufficient fuel for their entire service life. Extended maintenance periods, however, will still be required to ensure safe and effective operation of submarines, so the unique capability at Devonport to carry out deep maintenance will remain vital in the future.