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Construction starts on third Dreadnought-class SSBN

The UK's Dreadnought-class SSBN programme continues to make progress, with three boats now in build. (BAE Systems)

The UK Royal Navy's (RN's) Dreadnought-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) programme has achieved another milestone with the start of construction of the third boat.

A steel-cutting ceremony for third-of-class Warspite was held at BAE Systems' shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, on 9 February.

Under the Dreadnought programme, BAE Systems is building four new SSBNs to replace the the RN's four Vanguard-class SSBNs from the early 2030s.

Construction of the first and second boats, Dreadnought and Valiant, continue to make progress. By mid-2022, first-of-class Dreadnought had reached the mid-point of its build programme and all of its missile tubes had completed delivery from the US. Further progress was made in late November 2022 when the first pressure hull section for Dreadnought was moved to BAE Systems' Devonshire Dock Complex (DDC) facility in Barrow-in-Furness for final outfitting and assembly, followed by the boat's missile compartment on 29 December.

In May 2022, the SSBN programme moved into delivery phase (DP) 3, which will see first-of-class Dreadnought exit the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard to start sea trials and will also enable learning from this phase to be applied to the build and test of later boats. DP1 and DP2 covered the design and initial build of the submarine and its integrated systems.

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