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Royal Navy SSBN Vanguard departs Devonport following completion of refit

HMS Vanguard is expected to return to operations later in 2023 following the completion of its post-refit trial period. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Royal Navy's (RN's) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), HMS Vanguard (S28), has finally departed Babcock International's Devonport Royal Dockyard facility in Plymouth following the completion of a much-delayed deep maintenance and refuelling programme.

An RN spokesperson confirmed to Janes that Vanguard set sail from Devonport Dockyard on 9 May bound for HM Naval Base, Clyde, at Faslane, Scotland, where it will start its post-refit trial period. This will include crew training and will culminate in a demonstration and shakedown operation. The demonstration firing of the Trident weapon system typically takes place off the Eastern Seaboard of the US.

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

At the submarine's rededication ceremony in July 2022, Babcock described Vanguard's deep maintenance period, which involved the participation of more than 2,500 personnel, as “one of the most comprehensive refit and refuelling projects undertaken at Devonport”. The shipbuilder said that during the course of the programme around 21,851 items were removed and handled in Babcock's site shops and factories, 38,000 tiles were replaced and around 32,000 litres of paint was applied to the submarine.

In addition to a general overhaul of the missile launch systems, sonar equipment, computer and communication systems, and machinery, Vanguard

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