The Iron Shipbuilding
Company was founded in 1871 by James
Ramsden, General Manager of the Furness
Railway Company who became first mayor
of the new town of Barrow-in-Furness in
Lancashire (now Cumbria). However, on registering
the new company in 1872, the name was changed
to the Barrow Ship Building Company
(BSBC) when it was realised that there was
already another company building iron ships
further down the coast at Birkenhead.
view further information on how Barrow Shipyard
and Submarines developed over the years click
on a date area in the timeline...
vessel 1877; First submarines 1886
In the first thirty years of its existence,
Barrow shipyard built a wide range
of surface ships of all types. They
received their first naval vessel
order from the British Admiralty in
1877 and cut their submarine-building
teeth in 1886 on two steam-engined
boats for the Swedish industrialist
and arms dealer Thorsten Nordenfelt.
These were ultimately sold to Turkey
and Russia. The Turkish boat, Abdul
Hamid, was dismantled for delivery
Boat - Abdul Hamid
and re-erected at Taskizak Tersanesi
shipyard, Istanbul. She achieved
fame as the world's first submarine
to fire a torpedo underwater. The
submarine for Russia never reached
her customer, foundering on the Jutland
(Danish) coast on her delivery voyage.
The shipyard earned a growing reputation
for quality-built naval ships and
in 1888, having bought out the gun
interests of the Maxim Nordenfelt
Guns & Ammunition Company,
was renamed the Naval Construction
& Armaments Company.
- Bought by Vickers
The company was bought by the Vickers
family steel business of Sheffield
for just £425,000 in 1897. In
that same year, they also bought out
Maxim Nordenfelt completely
for £1,353,000. This acquisition
enabled the company, now renamed Vickers,
Sons & Maxim Limited, to proudly
claim at the turn of the century that
they were "the only shipbuilder
capable of designing, building, engining
and arming their own vessels."
1901 - The
Royal Navy's First Submarine
The company was awarded the contract
for the Royal Navy's first five submarines
built to the latest design from the
Irish-American John P Holland.
The first submarine (officially Her
Majesty's Submarine Torpedo Boat No.1
but not named at launch and usually
referred to as Holland 1) was
built with every secrecy at Barrow
and launched 'as an experiment' without
ceremony on October 2nd 1901. By the
outbreak of war in 1914, Britain had
the largest, most advanced and best
supported submarine fleet in any world
navy and Vickers had been responsible
for 94% of the 74 submarines available.
Since that time, throughout the Second
World War and
submarines continued to grow in status
to become the capital ships in the Royal
Navy's inventory and Barrow shipyard
has had an ongoing involvement in their
design, build and development.
1960 - Into
the Nuclear Age
Britain's first nuclear submarine
'Dreadnought' and first Polaris-armed
ballistic nuclear submarine 'Resolution'
were both built here as have been
all but three of the Royal Navy's
nuclear submarine fleet. From 1993-1999,
Barrow was entrusted with the major
programme to build the UK's four Vanguard
Class Ballistic Nuclear Submarines
that carry Trident - the ultimate
strategic nuclear deterrent. These
submarines perform a round the clock
defence patrol 365 days a year, working
unseen and undetected to maintain
country's peace and protect our freedom.
The 'eternal vigilance' service has
been maintained continuously since 1968.
Submarines from other Builders...
Over the past century, four Royal
Dockyards and 16 other shipyards and
engineering companies built a total
of 266 Royal Navy submarines in the
80 years from 1913-1993. Of these,
the last three were actually Vickers
Shipbuilding & Engineering Limited
(VSEL) Barrow orders, built post-Nationalisation
by VSEL at the former Cammell Laird
shipyard at Birkenhead prior to its
closure in 1993.
RN Submarines from Barrow...
Since 1993, Barrow shipyard has been
the sole remaining builder of submarines
for the Royal Navy and the company's
submarine build total for the Royal
Navy far exceeds that of all the other
builders put together. The shipyard
has 309 Royal Navy submarines to its
credit, including every nuclear submarine
currently in service.
and a further
three on order
Three Astute Class submarines (Astute,
Ambush and Artful) are currently
ordered from Barrow, and the first is already
under construction. Unlike previous nuclear
boats, each of the Astute Class submarines
will never require to be refuelled throughout
its projected 30-year service life. The
first three Astute Class boats will
bring the build total at Barrow to 312 submarines
for the Royal Navy
and a further 26 built over the years for
foreign navies. Further Astute Class
submarines may be ordered in due course. Barrow
shipyard has also built 373 merchant ships
and 148 naval surface ships but that's another
2001 - A Century of
RN Submarine Building
Barrow's reputation for innovation and quality
in submarine design and build has been maintained
and strengthened over the last century.
The shipyard, now owned by BAE SYSTEMS,
celebrated the RN Submarine Centenary
and Barrow yard's 100 years of RN submarine
building in 2001. The Submarine Service
was bestowed with the Freedom of the Borough
of Barrow -in-Furness during the celebrations,
testimony to the enduring association between
the town and the Royal Navy.
Shipyard in 2002.
Today, Barrow shipyard with its sister yards
at Scotstoun and Govan on the
Clyde form Marine - the shipbuilding
business sector within the Sea Systems Group
of BAE SYSTEMS - the global defence
company innovating for a safer world.
for the Submarine Heritage Centre -