in Defence / Events

Australian and UK defence ministers visit Rolls-Royce nuclear reactor manufacturing site

Posted 6 November 2023

UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps and Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Richard Marles, visited Rolls-Royce’s nuclear reactor manufacturing site in Derby on Friday, to meet the first group of Australian nationals training within UK industry to understand how the next generation of conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines are being constructed.

Image courtesy MoD

Rolls-Royce will be the supplier of all the nuclear propulsion plants for the UK and Australian submarines.

The Ministers saw the first nuclear propulsion plant components being fabricated for the UK’s SSN-AUKUS programme, representing one of the first stages of building the submarines which will help protect our collective and economic security.

This follows an injection of £4 billion of UK funding to British businesses, including Rolls-Royce, for the development of the UK’s SSN-AUKUS submarines announced earlier this year.

The work will support Rolls-Royce in doubling the size of the Derby site and creating thousands of jobs in the UK in the coming years, backing the UK’s current and future submarine programmes.  

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said: "A project like this can only succeed with the great work that’s being done across British Industry.

"The work at Rolls-Royce in Derby is a great example of what we can achieve when we collaborate and work alongside our allies. It is inspiring to see our personnel on the ground working side by side with the Australians to deliver the most advanced submarines for our navies.

"The partnership will not only help uphold stability in the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions, but also demonstrate the world-class trademark that embodies British Industry."

As part of the collaboration programme, over the next seven weeks 13 Australian nationals will embark on training and familiarisation activity across the UK. The cohort will open the door for a generation of Australians to work alongside British industry, and help deliver the next generation of conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines.  

The Australian personnel will visit some of the UK’s most distinguished submarine building and sustainment experts from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and Babcock. They will have the opportunity to observe how the UK develops and maintains some of the most advanced submarine technology in the world to help build their expertise and accelerate the training required to operate a nuclear-powered submarine fleet.  

There will be significant new opportunities for small, medium and large enterprise across all AUKUS partners. The cooperation will result in benefits to industrial capability across all three nations with enhanced resilience of trilateral supply chains.  

Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles said: "Australia is working closely with the UK and the US to progressively develop the skills, knowledge and expertise to build, operate, and maintain conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines.

"These Australian industry placements provide us with an invaluable opportunity to learn from our experienced partners in the UK, and to better understand the functions and scope of the work."

The AUKUS submarines will be the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy and will help continue global stability for decades to come.  

AUKUS cooperation will result in benefits to industrial capability across all three nations with enhanced resilience of trilateral supply chains. It will foster a deeper integration of security and defence-related science.




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