Trident renewal costs increase to £31bn

23 Nov 15

The cost of replacing the Trident nuclear missile submarine fleet is expected to hit £31bn, an increase of £6bn from the last estimate in 2011.

The revelation is included in the government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, published today, which stated that the renewal of Trident would be a 20-year acquisition programme.

“Our latest estimate is that manufacturing the four Successor submarines is likely to cost a total of £31bn (including inflation over the lifetime of the programme), with the first submarine entering service in the early 2030s,” it said.

The last official estimate of the cost of the scheme was £25bn in 2011, which was based on uprating the £20bn estimate from 2006 for inflation.

The new price tag does not include a £10bn contingency fund, which the Ministry of Defence also confirmed would be created for the project.

“The revised cost and schedule reflect the greater understanding we now have about the detailed design of the submarines and their manufacture,” it stated.

Replacing the Vanguard class of nuclear-armed submarines with a new class of four submarines, currently known as Successor, would be a national endeavour, the review stated, equivalent in scale to Crossrail or High Speed 2.

“We will hold a debate in Parliament on the principle of continuous at sea deterrence and our plans for Successor, and will continue to provide annual reports to Parliament,” it added.

It is likely that some of the costs of the programme will be met from the £178bn defence equipment funding pot for the next 10 years, which was confirmed by Prime Minister David Cameron today.

Publication of the full SDSR document also revealed the MoD would cut its civilian workforce by nearly 30% by the end of the parliament, equivalent to 41,000 posts.

Trade union Prospect, which represents some MoD staff, said the reduction would further cut staffing levels that had already been pared back following the 2010 review.

“It seems perverse that following the recent leak revealing George Osborne’s belief that the MoD lacks the skills to manage the Trident successor programme, ministers should seek to further de-skill the department,” deputy general secretary Dai Hudd said.

“Plans to do so should be fiercely scrutinised.”

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