The UK’s £31 billion next-generation nuclear subs could be delayed after the discovery of a welding defect in ballistic missile tubes designed and built in the US.
The UK Navy is planning to replace its four Vanguard-class ballistic-missile submarines by new Dreadnought-class submarines, which are due to come into service in the 2030s.
However, recently, BWX Technologies, a US company responsible for building a common missile tube for the UK Navy Dreadnought-class submarines and for the US Navy’s Columbia and Virginia-class programs, warned of the welding defect.
All 12 missile tubes manufactured by BWX Technologies are being scrutinized for substandard welds. Seven of them were already delivered to prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat and five were still under construction when the situation became public.
The sides are currently investigating into the issue.
“All BWXT welding requiring volumetric inspection has been halted until the investigation is complete,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Bill Couch said in a statement regarding this situation.
The bad welds were also found in the production of BWX Technologies related to the new US and UK submarines programs.
The aforementioned factors would likely impact negatively the US and UK plans to renew its nuclear subs fleet.