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Babcock awarded refit contract for second Vanguard-class SSBN

The overhaul of HMS Victorious will allow the boat to carry out deterrent patrols until the next generation of SSBNs, the Dreadnought class, enters service. (Babcock)

Babcock has been awarded a contract by the UK Submarine Delivery Agency to carry out the non-refuelling deep maintenance and life-extension (LIFEX) programme for the UK Royal Navy's (RN's) second Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), HMS Victorious.

The full-cost recovery contract, worth an estimated GBP560 million (USD709.9 million), replaces an initial contract awarded in July 2023 to begin preparatory work on the submarine at Babcock's Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth.

Victorious is the second of the RN's four Vanguard-class SSBNs to undergo a LIFEX package at Babcock's Devonport facility. The refits are intended to extend the service life of the submarines until the replacement Dreadnought-class SSBNs start entering service from the early 2030s.

According to Babcock, the programme of work on Victorious will involve the upgrade of more than 90% of the boat's equipment and systems, including the combat management system, and will require around 7.2 million personnel hours of work to complete. This will be carried out at a range of facilities in and around the Devonport dockyard, with about 2,500 personnel expected to be involved in the refit overall.

Meanwhile, first-of-class Vanguard completed its much-delayed Long Overhaul Period (Refuel) at Babcock's Devonport facilities in May 2023 and will shortly return to operations after successfully concluding its post-refit trials period.

Vanguard's programme of work, which began in December 2015, was originally intended to take three years but ended up taking more than seven at significantly increased cost because of technical issues as well as setbacks from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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