As work begins on Britain's next generation of nuclear ballistic missile submarines, the first in the class has been given an historic name. The Queen today gave the royal assent for the largest-ever Royal Navy submarine to be christened HMS Dreadnought – the ninth vessel to carry the name in over 450 years. The date of the naming was chosen to mark Trafalgar Day and the 56th anniversary of the launching of the first British nuclear submarine, also named Dreadnought.

The new Dreadnought is the first of four boats in the Successor class intended to replace the aging Vanguard ballistic missile submarines, which carry Britain's Independent Nuclear Deterrent (IND) that sees at least one nuclear-armed boat at sea at all times. After Parliament approved construction in July, the first steel was cut by BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness on October 5, though preliminary work has been underway for over two years on various components to avoid production delays.

Dreadnought's design is based on the Astute attack submarine as a way to keep down cost and avoid any relearning processes. When completed, it will be 152.9 m (502 ft) long, displace 17,200 tonnes (19,000 tons), and will include a number of RN submarine firsts, including a full-time doctor, gym, day/night lighting, and women's accommodations.

The first steel for Dreadnought was cut earlier this month at BAE Systems(Credit: BAE Systems)

Dreadnought will carry US-built Trident D5 missiles in the US/UK Common Missile Compartment consisting of 12 missile compartments, with 8 missiles and 40 British designed and built nuclear warheads on MIRV vehicles. What the spare four tubes will carry is classified. Power will come courtesy of a Rolls-Royce PWR3 nuclear reactor and though Dreadnought will be in service from 2028 until the 2050s, it will never need refueling during that time. In fact, the boat isn't even designed for such a thing.

When commissioned, Dreadnought will be the ninth to carry the name since the days of Queen Elizabeth. The first was captained by Sir Francis Drake and saw action against the Spanish Armada, and a later one fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where Admiral Lord Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets.

The most famous Dreadnought was the sixth, which entered service in 1906. The brainchild of Admiral "Jacky" Fisher, this Dreadnought was the first modern battleship and gave her name to an enter type of ship. Her heavy armor, 12-in guns, and 21 knots (24 mph, 39 km/h) of speed made all other warships at the time obsolete and sparked a frenzied arms race among the great powers.

The eighth Dreadnought was Britain's first nuclear submarine and served until 1980 as an experimental and trials boat. Construction stirred tremendous controversy at the time when the US Admiral Hyman Rickover angrily opposed providing the British with the American submarine reactor that was installed in Dreadnought.

The video below introduces the Successor class submarines.

Source: Royal Navy

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