DEFENCE chief Sir Michael Fallon said “over to you” after he flew into Barrow to officially start building work on the UK’s next generation of nuclear submarines.

The secretary of state addressed workers and senior figures at BAE Systems in Barrow against a backdrop of Astute-class submarines being built in the Devonshire Dock Hall.

In a rousing speech, Sir Michael touched on how the new fleet will protect our national security and how Barrow and the UK as a whole will benefit from the 15-year programme.

Sir Michael said: “You are all here on the day that was planned five-and-a-half years ago to get this programme under way and that momentum will keep building from this day onwards.

“Last year we had a mandate from the British public to replace our ageing Vanguard submarines and last year parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to renew that strategic nuclear deterrent.

“Yesterday I was able to announce a £1.3bn contract for this important defence. Now we hand the baton over to you to deliver these submarines. Turning all our national will and our significant financial commitment into cold hard steel that is going to keep this country safe for years to come.”

Following the investment by the government, the programme will now move into the next stage known as “delivery phase one”, with manufacturing work beginning on structural steel work for the auxiliary machine space of the first submarine.

The money will also be spent furthering the design of the submarine, purchasing materials and long lead items, as well as investing in facilities at the BAE Systems yard.

Sir Michael likened the new submarines, which will each be the size of three Olympic-sized swimming pools, to “being as sophisticated as space shuttles” and said that they will go down in the history of this country.

The secretary of state said: “You are going to be building over the next 20 years the biggest and most powerful submarines ever built in Britain.

“You will be the ones electrifying a new generation of engineers to continue building for Britain as well as manufacturing security, prosperity and jobs, you will also manufacture confidence in global Britain.

“Your future in completing these subs will be a future to stand alongside anything else in our maritime construction history.”

Reflecting on the situation across the globe, Sir Michael labelled the world as a “dangerous place” and insisted that the new Barrow-built submarines will give hope and ensure our protection from countries such as Russia and North Korea.

He said: “We are building these submarines because the world is sadly becoming a darker and more dangerous place.

“These boats that you are going to build give us the guarantee that no matter the danger, Britain will continue to deter and defend against the most extreme threats to our way of life so you are manufacturing our security for the future but also our prosperity as well.”

BARROW MP: Town can have global impact

BARROW and Furness MP John Woodcock labelled yesterday's launch of the Successor programme as a "fantastic and historic day" for the town.

Labour MP Mr Woodcock who defied party policy by voting for the renewal of the Trident missile system in July earlier this year was delighted as the project finally got underway.

He said: "We have been saying for so long that this day will come but there is nothing like actually cutting the steel and knowing that we have got decades of work secured for Barrow.

"Our big challenge now which I have discussed at length is to ensure that the investment coming into the shipyard leaves a lasting legacy for all parts of Furness."

He believes that Barrow needs to reap the rewards of the £1.3bn contract by making sure that the town markets itself as an attractive place for companies across the globe.

Mr Woodcock added: "This is our opportunity to market this incredible centre of manufacturing and engineering excellence to the world.

"I hope in what will be a difficult time following Brexit Barrow can be sending out a clear message to companies around the world that this is a brilliant place to come and invest."


FIVE thousand members of staff will be working for BAE Systems to build the next batch of Trident submarines in the early 2020s.

After securing the future of the Successor programme following a £1.3bn investment revealed by defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon, thousands of new staff will be recruited over the next 15 years.

There are currently 2,600 people working on the Successor programme across the UK for the Ministry of Defence and other industries with 1,800 of those working for BAE Systems.

However, as construction of the four new submarines gets into full swing, 5,000 staff will be recruited by the company in the early 2020's when production is set to peak.

Since the project was approved by the government in 2011, more than 100 suppliers have worked with BAE Systems to source material for the new fleet of boats.

Eighty-five per cent of these are based in the UK and it's thought that by the end of the programme between eight and nine billion pounds will have been spent and more than 350 suppliers will have been used.

TRIDENT REPLACEMENT: How it played out in Parliament

THE new submarines will replace the Vanguard class of boat which was introduced into service in 1994.

At least one of the four-strong fleet is always at sea, armed with up to 16 of the controversial UGM-133 Trident II nuclear missiles.

The four Vanguard class submarines are Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance. They were built and worked on at the shipyard in Barrow, then called Vickers, between 1986 and 1999.

The Devonshire Dock Hall, which dominates the town's skyline was built to accommodate the project.

Tony Blair started the process of replacing the Vanguard boats in December 2006, when he said it would be 'unwise and dangerous' for the UK to give up its nuclear weapons, and outlined plans to spend £20bn on new submarines, potentially cutting the number from four to three.

The issue has since proven to be one of the most divisive in British politics, no more so than in the last two years after it became a key General Election battleground in 2015.

A vote on the Trident renewal programme motion in the House of Commons on July 18 determined that the UK should proceed with construction of the next generation of submarines. The motion passed with a significant majority with 472 MPs voting in favour and 117 against.

The new fleet is expected to be operation by the 2030s and, although estimates vary, is set to cost £31bn with a £10bn contingency over the next 35 years.

BAE CHIEF: News is fantastic for Barrow

BAE managing director Tony Johns has labelled the decision to award the £1.3bn contract to the company as "fantastic for Barrow" as the Successor programme was officially launched.

Mr Johns, who has been head of submarines at the company since 2013, spoke of his delight as defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon gave the project the formal seal of approval in a ceremony at the shipyard yesterday.

The BAE chief is now eager for his workers to get started on the new fleet in the upcoming weeks.

He said: "It's fantastic for the business and fantastic for the town of Barrow as well as the people of Cumbria. It's a once in a generation day.

"We have been presented with a great opportunity and it's wonderful for the local community so we are very excited. This town has seen some hard times so it's good that we have got this contract.

"We know that we can build world-class submarines but we have to keep performing. We've made a great start to this programme but we have to keep that going.

"I'm very proud of what the team has done so far and we look forward to taking that level of commitment into the future."