skip to main content

HMS Vanguard returns to service

The UK Royal Navy's (RN's) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) HMS Vanguard (S 28) has returned to service following the completion of its planned deep maintenance and refuelling programme.

A rededication ceremony was held at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth on 16 July.

Vanguard started what was originally intended to be a three-year Long Overhaul Period (Refuel) – (LOP[R]) – at Babcock International's Devonport facility in Plymouth in December 2015. However, the programme ended up taking almost seven years at significantly increased cost because of technical issues as well as further setbacks arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to overhauling the missile launch systems, sonar equipment, computer and communication systems, and machinery, Vanguard's life extension programme has included an additional refuelling as a precautionary measure after low-level radiation was discovered in the Core H test reactor in 2012. The Vanguard submarines were not designed to be refuelled for a second time, and it is understood that much of the programme slippage resulted from the unforeseen challenges arising from this work.

Vanguard's deep maintenance period has been described by the RN as “one of the most comprehensive refit and refuelling projects undertaken at Devonport”. More than 2,500 people have worked on the project, during which 21,851 items were removed and handled in Babcock's site shops and factories, 38,000 tiles have been replaced and around 32,000 litres of paint has been applied to the submarine.

Following its re-entry into service, Vanguard is expected to sail to the US to conduct a demonstration of its weapon system later in 2022.


Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...