Successor-class becomes Dreadnought-class

Building to start on new nuclear submarines as government announces £1.3 billion investment

Composite rendering of how the new class will look (Crown)

The Royal Navy is to see the return of one of its most famous ship names. It has been confirmed that the new fleet of Trident D5-armed ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) previously known as the Successor-class will now become the Dreadnought-class. Construction of first-of-class HMS Dreadnought began last month and along with her three sister ships will carry the UK’s nuclear deterrence in to the 2050s.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon made the announcement  during Trafalgar Day celebrations on Friday;

Her Majesty the Queen has graciously approved that Dreadnought, one of the most famous names in the Royal Navy, will become the lead boat and class name for the Royal Navy’s new successor submarines.

HMS DreadnoughtThe name Dreadnought has now been carried by 12 Royal Navy vessels including those operated by the English Navy before the 1707 Acts of Union with Scotland with the first being a 40-gun man-of-war built in 1553. A dreadnought was present at both the battle against the Spanish Armada and in the Battle of Trafalgar but it is perhaps the revolutionary 1906 vessel that has become most synonymous with the name. That Dreadnought was so revolutionary that not only did it render all other warships obsolete but it gave birth to a whole new type of warship known as the Dreadnoughts.

The name transferred from surface warships to submarines with the launch of another Dreadnought in 1960. HMS Dreadnought S101 was Britain’s first nuclear powered submarine and as such was as revolutionary in the Royal Navy as her predecessor was. The new Dreadnought will continue the tradition of representing technical achievement and innovation being one of the most advanced and stealthy ballistic missile submarines in the world.

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NEWS: Trident whistleblower McNeilly will not face court martial

The Royal Navy have confirmed that Able Seaman William McNeilly, known as the “Trident whistleblower” after he published online an unauthorized report cataloguing problems with the Royal Navy’s nuclear missile submarines, will not face a court martial. He has however been dismissed from the Royal Navy over the incident.

An MoD spokesperson said;

We can confirm that AB McNeilly has left the Naval Service, the details of which are a matter for the individual and his employer. Throughout the process Able Seaman McNeilly was still being afforded the duty of care that we give all our personnel, as was his family.

McNeilly’s actions afforded him both praise from nuclear disarmament campaigners labelling him a hero and scorn from military leaders and indeed his fellow submariners. In response to the public interest in McNeilly’s illegal report the MoD conducted an investigation that concluded that much of his report was factually incorrect, hear-say or were problems that had already been identified and solved. Despite the MoD’s denials, McNeilly will be leaving behind a legacy of mistrust and suspicion regarding Britain’s nuclear deterrence and no doubt that legacy is going to be felt in political circles for years to come as Trident gets closer to the point of needing replacement.

NEWS: AWOL engineer claims nuclear subs are “disaster waiting to happen”

Vanguard classAble Seaman William McNeilly from Belfast who formerly served onboard the nuclear ballistic missile carrying submarine HMS Victorious has published an 18-page report online which he calls The Secret Nuclear Threat.

The unauthorized report listed many complaints ranging from such subjects as food hygiene all the way up to failures during testing of whether the sixteen Trident missiles (totalling 48 nuclear warheads) could safely be launched or not. Perhaps even more worryingly he described incidents where security passes disappeared or simply went unchecked whilst the vessel was in dock at the Faslane submarine base on the River Clyde. The report even claims that a fire occurred in the missile compartment and that it was quickly covered up.

The Royal Navy today issued a strong denial regarding the truth to these claims. The Royal Navy emphasized that it takes its role as carrying the nation’s nuclear deterrence extremely seriously and that all personnel involved in operating the Vanguard-class vessels carry out their duties to the highest of standards. Able Seaman McNeilly has been unavailable for further comment with his whereabouts currently being unknown. Both civilian and military police services are investigating leads to locate him.

Within hours of McNeilly’s report being made public, political factions in the UK against the nuclear submarine program spoke up in support of McNeilly’s claims including the Scottish National Party’s Angus Robertson who demanded that the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence investigate the claims properly for to ignore them would, as he put it;

“…result in extreme tragedy not just for those on board but indeed for the entire planet.”