Vanguard Class Submarine

The Vanguard class is a class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) in service with the Royal Navy. The class was introduced in 1994 as part of the Trident nuclear programme, and includes four boats: Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance. They were built between 1986 and 1999 at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, which is now owned by BAE Systems. All four boats are based at HM Naval Base Clyde (HMS Neptune), 40 km (25 mi) west of Glasgow, Scotland.

Since the decommissioning of the Royal Air Force WE.177 free-fall thermonuclear weapons in 1998, the four Vanguard submarines are the sole platforms for the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons. Each submarine is armed with up to 16 UGM-133 Trident II missiles. The class is scheduled to be replaced starting 2028, though its replacement would not enter service until early 2030s.

Vanguard Class SubmarineBeginning in 1985, both HMNB Clyde and the Royal Naval Armaments Depot Coulport at Faslane underwent extensive redevelopment in preparation for the Vanguard class submarines and Trident II missiles. Rosyth dockyard also underwent significant redevelopment. The work included enhanced "handling, storage, armament processing, berthing, docking, engineering, training and refitting facilities" at an estimates cost of £550 million. Similarly, due to the huge scale of the Vanguard-class design, the Devonshire Dock Hall was built specifically for the construction of the boats. Construction started in 1982 and was completed in 1986.

The Vanguard class were designed in the early 1980s by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering (VSEL) based at Barrow-in-Furness, now BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines. They were designed from the outset as nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, able to accommodate the UGM-133 Trident II missiles. As such, the missile compartment is based on the same system used on the American Ohio class, which is also equipped with the UGM-133 Trident II. This requirement lead to the Vanguard-class design being significantly larger than the previous Polaris-equipped Resolution class, and at nearly 16,000 tonnes they are the largest submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. More details