Royal Navy HMS Victorious, Vanguard-class nuclear submarine (Crown Copyright, 2013)

UK’s Submarine Delivery Agency Officially Launched

Royal Navy Committed to Nuclear Continuous-At-Sea Deterrent

The Submarine Delivery Agency (SDA) was officially launched today, April 23, by the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. According to the Ministry of Defence, the Submarine Delivery Agencymarks a major step forward for the Royal Navy’s new nuclear submarines, as well as signalling the UK’s commitment to deploying the Navy as a continuous-at-sea deterrent.

The announcement comes after an extra £800 million was secured by the Ministry of Defence – £600 million of which will ensure the UK is protected by the new Dreadnought submarine fleet into the 2030s and beyond.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

Our nuclear deterrent is our ultimate defence from the most extreme threats while our attack submarines are busier than ever providing unprecedented levels of protection across the world.

 A Royal Navy submarine is on patrol 24 hours a day, every day of the year, protecting our way of life. These advanced and complex vessels are more important than ever as the world becomes an increasingly dangerous place and establishing this new Agency sends a clear signal of our commitment to continue deterring conflict and protecting the nation.

A Royal Navy submarine has always been on patrol, providing the continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent for almost 50 years. The Royal Navy has operated the UK’s Continuous-at-Sea Deterrent since 1967 when the first SSBN – or Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear – HMS Resolution began patrolling armed with the Polaris missile system.

In 1996 HMS Vanguard, the first submarine armed with the Trident missile system, arrived on the Clyde and took over deterrent patrol duties from the Resolution Class. The four Vanguard-class submarines form the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent force. Each of the four boats are armed with Trident 2 D5 nuclear missiles. Like all submarines the Vanguard Class are steam powered, their reactors converting water into steam to drive the engines and generate electricity. Fitted with world beating sonar, essentially their ears, the system is so sensitive they can hear vessels over 50 miles away.

2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review Milestone

The stand-up of the Submarine Delivery Agency marks the delivery of a milestone set out in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review that strengthens arrangements to support the UK’s submarine capability.

The Executive Agency will lead on the procurement, in-service support and decommissioning of all UK nuclear submarines.

The Submarine Delivery Agency will procure and project manage the construction of future Royal Navy submarines, and support those in-service, working with Navy Command and the newly established Defence Nuclear Organisation.

The vision of the Submarine Delivery Agency is to lead a high-performing industrial enterprise to deliver and support the UK’s submarine capability safely, securely and more effectively and cost efficiently.

Headed by Chief Executive Officer Ian Booth – who has a wealth of experience in delivering complex private and public sector procurement programmes – the Submarine Delivery Agency employs around 1,300 people and already has a talented and extremely knowledgeable workforce, including some of the nation’s most experienced nuclear experts.

Booth previously headed the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA), the state-industry body responsible for constructing the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers: HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. the head of the Submarine Delivery Agency will earn almost £500,000 annually, about three times as much as is paid to the British Prime Minister.

The Submarine Delivery Agency will have the authority and freedom to recruit and retain the best people to manage the Submarine Enterprise. The SDA has a number of special “freedoms”. Foremost is its ability to pay above the salary caps set by HM Treasury. The SDA is also exempt from Cabinet Office Controls, allowing it to recruit externally as it sees fit.

The majority of Submarine Delivery Agency staff will be based in Bristol, with other colleagues located at sites such as Barrow, Derby, Devonport, Rosyth and Faslane.

Chief Executive Officer of the Submarine Delivery Agency, Ian Booth said:

The SDA is to lead a high-performing industrial enterprise that is committed to strengthening the safety, availability, reliability and security of UK submarines, including our Continuous At Sea Deterrent. The Agency will draw on best practice from both the public and private sectors with a focus on cost effective and timely delivery to achieve the best possible outcomes for Defence.

The Submarine Delivery Agency has learnt from other successful programmes of a similar scale and complexity such as the 2012 Olympics and Crossrail. It will maintain vital links with industry and public sector partners to preserve the UK’s technology advantage and skills-base and to ensure submarine manufacturing and maintenance capability is sufficient to support the UK’s submarine requirements.

A key facet of the Submarine Delivery Agency is to manage the Dreadnought and Astute nuclear submarine programmes to time and budget, alongside providing day-to-day support to the in-service fleet of Trafalgar, Astute and Vanguard Class submarines. As a responsible nuclear operator, the organisation will also manage the decommissioning and disposal of submarines in a safe and environmentally sound way.

The Submarine Delivery Agency was launched as an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) on 1 April 2018. It employs both civilian and military staff and is based predominantly at the MOD Abbey Wood site, but also has representation at other locations, including Her Majesty’s Naval Bases Devonport and Clyde,and at key supplier sites. The SDA is a crucial part of the nuclear enterprise, who together with the Defence Nuclear Organisation and Navy Command, keep safe and capable submarines at sea today and in the future – providing the UK’s strategic deterrent and supporting global security.


Source: MOD.

Image: the Royal Navy’s Vanguard-class submarine HMS Victorious (Crown Copyright, 2013).