Royal Navy Names New Dreadnought-Class Submarine

Credit: Royal Navy
Credit: Royal Navy

Published Feb 25, 2019 8:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

Hailed as the greatest name in the history of the Royal Navy in the 20th Century, Warspite will be resurrected in the 21st Century.

The third Royal Navy nuclear deterrence submarine will be named HMS Warspite. She is expected to be operational in the 2030s, alongside HMS Dreadnought, Valiant and a fourth, as yet unnamed, submarine, each carrying Trident nuclear missiles on deterrence patrols for three months at a time. The £31 billion ($41 billion) Dreadnought program will see the submarines enter service in the 2030s.

The 152.9-meter (501-foot) vessels will displace 1,300 more tons. They are expected to be fitted with a new lighting system which can imitate night and day and, for the first time in a British submarine, there’ll be a dedicated compartment for studying, a gym (rather than gym kit squeezed into odd spaces) and separate quarters for female crew.

HMS Warspite will be the eighth warship to bear the name which dates back to 1595 and was the last “great ship” to be built during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Most famously, the sixth Warspite, a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship, earned more battle honors than any other single warship in Royal Navy history. She served through both World Wars, was badly damaged at both Jutland and Crete, involved in battles at Narvik and Matapan and Normandy and was hit by a guided bomb off Salerno. Her motto was belli dura despicio (I despise the hard knocks of war).

Most recently, Warspite No.7 was part of the Cold War: a nuclear-powered submarine serving between 1967 and 1991.

When announcing the name of the new Dreadnought-class submarine, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson also awarded a £235 million ($308 million) contract to support nuclear propulsion systems. The multi-million-pound deal with Rolls-Royce Submarines Limited will provide the support, advice and material required to ensure the continued safety and availability of the systems on board the current fleet of Trafalgar, Vanguard and Astute class submarines until 2022.

In December 2018, the Williamson announced a £400 million ($525 million) funding boost for the Dreadnought program alongside a £25 million BAE Systems academy that will upskill employees working on Royal Navy submarines. 

Williamson said: “This year we mark half-a-century since British nuclear-armed submarines began their continuous patrol of waters around the world. This significant milestone for the Royal Navy would not be possible without the skills and ingenuity of our industry partners who supply and maintain equipment.”