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3 minute read - 14th March 2023

BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce to play a key role in the delivery of AUKUS submarines

As part of the AUKUS trilateral agreement between Australia, the UK and the United States, it has been revealed that BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce will both play a key role in helping Australia to acquire its first nuclear powered submarines.

The three nations will deliver a trilaterally developed submarine, based on the UK’s next generation design, incorporating technology from all three nations. Australia and the UK will operate new submarines to this design, known as SSN-AUKUS, as their submarines of the future, with construction expected to begin this decade.

The first UK submarines built to this design will be delivered in the late 2030s to replace the current Astute class vessels, and the first Australian submarines will follow in the early 2040s. The SSN-AUKUS submarines will be the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world-leading sensors, design and weaponry in one vessel.

BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce will play a key role in the delivery of AUKUS submarines, creating thousands of jobs across the country / Picture: BAE Systems

BAE Systems has delivered five Astute class submarines to the UK Royal Navy, with the final two boats at advanced stages of construction at its shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness. The first three of four Dreadnought submarines are also under construction at the site and its engineers are undertaking early design work on the replacement for the Astute class under a £85m contract announced in September 2021.

More than £1bn has been invested to develop and expand infrastructure at Barrow over recent years, including £25m in a state-of-the-art training academy. Since 2020, BAE Systems has recruited more than 1,300 apprentices and graduates into its UK Submarines business, with plans to recruit a further 1,000 early careers trainees this year.

The announcement will see thousands of jobs created for Rolls-Royce and across the UK supply chain. Rolls-Royce Submarines, based in Derby, currently employs more than 4,000 people and designs, manufactures and provides in-service support to the pressurised water reactors that power every boat in the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet.

Charles Woodburn, chief executive of BAE Systems, said: “The AUKUS agreement will further enhance and deepen the relationship between the UK, the United States and Australia. The selection of the UK’s next generation submarine design is a significant development in that partnership and is a testament to the skills, commitment and ingenuity of everyone involved in both our Submarines business and the wider UK submarine enterprise.

“We employ more than 10,000 people in our Barrow-in-Furness shipyard delivering the Astute and Dreadnought submarine programmes for the UK’s Royal Navy and we’re extremely proud to be selected as a major partner in this historic endeavour which will ultimately enable Australia to acquire its own sovereign nuclear powered submarine fleet. As a key player in the Australian maritime enterprise, we also look forward to working with the Australian government to explore how we could potentially provide additional support to this important tri-national programme through our business in Australia.”

Steve Carlier, president of Rolls-Royce Submarines, said: “We are delighted to be asked to play our part in delivering this element of the AUKUS agreement and are well prepared to support through our nuclear expertise and engineering excellence. For over 60 years, we have provided the power to the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines and we are proud to be playing a critical role in helping Australia acquire their own nuclear propulsion submarine capability. This is great news for Rolls-Royce and for the country as a whole with the creation of more UK jobs and an opportunity to showcase British innovation and expertise on the world stage.”

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