October 5, 2016 / 3:50 PM / a year ago

UK defence minister launches new nuclear submarine programme

Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon stands in front of HMS Anson, under construction, at BAE Systems in Barrow-In-Furness, Britain October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble

BARROW-IN-FURNESS, England (Reuters) - The building of four new nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy began on Wednesday, part of a multi-billion pound update of Britain’s defence programme providing thousands of jobs.

Defence Minister Michael Fallon attended a steel-cutting ceremony at BAE Systems (BAES.L) in the northern English town of Barrow-in-Furness to mark the start of manufacturing on the “Successor” models, an update of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

They replace the current “Vanguard” models and will carry Trident nuclear missiles.

Lawmakers backed renewing Britain’s ageing nuclear weapons system earlier this year, a step many regard as key to maintaining the country’s status as a world power following its vote in June to leave the European Union.

The Successor programme already employs more than 2,600 people, including 1,800 at BAE Systems, the defence company said. At its peak, in the early 2020s, BAE anticipates employing more than 5,000 people on the programme throughout the supply chain.

The first submarine is due to enter service in the early 2030s.

Reporting by Phil Noble; Writing by Elisabeth O'Leary; editing by Stephen Addison

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