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Famous name returns for first of Royal Navy's newest nuclear submarines

21 October 2016
One of the most symbolic names in Royal Navy history has been resurrected after more than 35 years and assigned to the first of the next-generation nuclear-missile-armed submarines.

On the most important day in the Royal Navy’s calendar - Trafalgar Day - Her Majesty The Queen has given her consent for the 17,200-tonne boat to carry the name Dreadnought.

It’s a warship title which goes back to the reign of Elizabeth I, more than 450 years, but was most famously borne by two British warships in the 20th Century.

The name was last held by Britain’s first nuclear-powered submarine, launched by the Queen exactly 56 years ago today in Barrow – the very same yard where the new boat is being constructed.

That ninth Dreadnought largely served as an experimental/trials boat for subsequent generations of hunter-killer submarines and conducted Cold War patrols, until she was paid off in 1980.

Every day our ballistic missile submarines are used to deter the most extreme threats to Britain’s security. We cannot know what dangers we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s, so we are building the new Dreadnought class. Along with increasing the defence budget to buy new ships, more planes, and armoured vehicles, this commitment shows we will never gamble with our security.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon

Far more famous, however, was Dreadnought No.8, launched in 1906 in Portsmouth Dockyard. At a stroke she rendered every single battleship in the world’s navies obsolete.

So revolutionary was this all-big-gun leviathan that all battleships built afterwards were called dreadnoughts.

Work on the tenth HMS Dreadnought began in earnest ten days ago when Defence Secretary Michael Fallon set the steel cutter in motion at BAE’s Barrow Yard; those first sheets of steel will eventually be home to the control panels and switchboards serving the nuclear reactor.

The nuclear deterrent boat is being constructed alongside the four final hunter killers in the Astute class.

Even though the design is not yet complete, some facts and features are set in steel.

At 152.9m (501ft) long, the new boats will be three metres longer than their V-boat predecessors, but displace 1,300 more tonnes.

Dreadnought is also due to be fitted with a new lighting system which can imitate night and day – making it easier for crew to get used to normal life after three months submerged.

There will be nearly 13,000 electrical items aboard, enough piping to cover the distance of a marathon and 20,000 pieces of cable stretching 215 miles, or from the boats’ future home in Faslane to Leeds.

For the first time in a British submarine, there’ll be a dedicated compartment for studying, a gym (rather than gym kit squeezed into odd spaces), and separate quarters for female crew.

When in full swing, the Dreadnought class will be the biggest defence project in the UK.

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