When you think of the words "defence" and "nuclear" together we won't forgive you for picturing a mushroom cloud during WW2, a nuclear bunker in someones back garden during the Cold War or an evil villain with an itchy trigger finger hovering over a big red button. Some of these are part of the history of nuclear within the defence sector but the world now is a different place and the aim nowadays is for any nuclear firepower to act as a deterrent to stop any of the above scenarios (okay maybe not the evil villan) happening again. For an awesome overview it is definately worth a read of the Government paper and factsheet on the UK Nuclear Deterrent.
To help with understanding the UK Nuclear Defence sector we can split these simply - as we like to do - into two distinct segments; Nuclear Propulsion and Nuclear Deterrent.
The Nuclear Propulsion Sector is predominately managed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in which nuclear powered submarines, or boats, are manufactured and maintained. BAE Systems is the only UK manufacturer of nuclear submarines from the Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow-in-Furniss in Cumbria.
The Nuclear Deterrent Sector is managed by the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at two sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield both near to Reading. A consortium of Jacobs Engineering Group, Lockheed Martin UK and Serco manage the day-to-day operations of AWE Management Ltd. The sites remain under the ownership of the UK Government via the MoD.