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Job summary 

Thank you for expressing an interest in SDA Head of Submarine Disposal & Devonport Infrastructure role at the Submarine Delivery Agency (SDA).​ 

Our Agency is central to the UK Government’s £178 billion equipment plan for the British Armed Forces, and is responsible for the procurement, in-service support and decommissioning of all UK nuclear submarines.​ 

The nuclear submarine portfolio is a national endeavour and one of the largest UK investment portfolios, of critical strategic importance. We design, build, support and dispose of a unique piece of military hardware which must take its crew to sea for months at a time, keeping them there in safety, whilst powered by a nuclear reactor and, in some, housing ballistic nuclear missiles. This is what makes a nuclear submarine the most complex machine that the United Kingdom makes and supports, and this means we need people with exceptional skills to successfully deliver our portfolio.​ 

We are looking to appoint the SDA Head of Submarine Disposal & Devonport Infrastructure (SDDI) to lead the delivery of a high profile portfolio of in excess of £3bn, including two projects that feature in the Government Major Projects Portfolio and two Public Account Committee commitments.​ 

This is a senior leadership role that has responsibility to ensure that the highest quality outcomes are delivered throughout the SDA (and in collaboration with key suppliers) by a motivated, capable and agile project delivery workforce.  ​ 

We are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment and are actively looking to improve the diversity of our workforce whilst ensuring we have a culture of inclusivity.​ 

We are looking to appoint the Head of SDDI to lead a team of c.130 personnel based at various locations around the UK. The post will require frequent travel and attendance at our sites in Bristol, Plymouth and Rosyth, with flexible working options available,  and is critical in achieving the SDA’s role in supporting the Defence Nuclear Enterprise to deliver Royal Navy submarines, now and in the future.​ 

This is a Portfolio Delivery role that will take overall responsibility for submarine disposals and leads the programme to deliver the investments necessary to Submarine infrastructure to support future maintenance programmes, operational programmes and long term Submarine Availability.​ 

We would like to hear from successful leaders, able to motivate and lead individuals and teams to deliver one of the most complex challenges in the world to the highest standards of safety and quality in a heavily regulated environment. We would be interested to hear how your delivery experience has prepared you for this aspect of the role. We want someone who can take tough decisions, accept very significant responsibility and work as part of a team to manage complexity.​ 

We are looking for an individual who can collaborate across stakeholders within MOD, wider Government and other industry partners, who can inspire our workforce, who can drive the changes needed to meet the needs of their Delivery Team, and who can lead on initiatives to attract, develop and retain a diverse workforce deliver our critical outputs for the Royal Navy and UK Defence.​ 

This is an exciting time for the SDA. We look forward to welcoming you onboard to become part of our journey.​ 

Job description 

The Head of Submarine Disposals & Devonport Infrastructure (SDDI) leads the SDDI team of around 130 Civil Servants, Military personnel and contractors, reporting to the SDA Director Submarine Support. Owing to the sensitive nature of the submarine programme and national security considerations, the role holder is required to be a sole UK National. The Portfolio is split into two distinct parts: -​ 

Submarine Disposal 

Acting as Programme Director, the role is accountable for leading the “Disposal” lifecycle stage for all UK nuclear submarines, from operational handover through to completion of safe and secure disposal. This includes holding formal delegations for Platform Authority and Design Authority. The role will require development of a clear delivery strategy and supporting business cases to develop options to significantly accelerate the submarine disposal programme. The programme is part of the Government Major Projects Portfolio, and recognised by the Public Accounts Committee. 

Devonport Infrastructure 

Similarly, acting as Programme Director, the role is accountable for leading a portfolio of Major Infrastructure programmes in Devonport, acting in the role of Intelligent Client to set and agree requirements and funding with our Customers, develop clear specifications, and negotiate with Industry to deliver value for money solutions, to time and quality. Key programmes include: -​ 

  • Submarine Waterfront Infrastructure (Future), to deliver a capability to carry out the maintenance of Astute Class submarines at Devonport. This is part of the Government Major Projects Portfolio.​ 
  • Submarine Refit Complex, to deliver the capability to conduct submarine turnaround maintenance, defueling of PWR1 submarines and a Staged Improvement Plan to sustain these capabilities. 

Role Responsibilities 

The following responsibilities, whilst not an exhaustive list, are required for successful execution of the role: – 

  • Ensure the deliverability of the SDA’s Submarine Disposals & Devonport Infrastructure Portfolio, creating a coherent programme, schedule, risk profile and costings.​ 
  • Manage the complex stakeholder map associated with the portfolio of work.​ 
  • Create, deliver and lead the SDA’s Submarine Disposal & Devonport Infrastructure approvals plan and client capability.​ 
  • Develop the SDA’s Submarine Disposal & Devonport Infrastructure’s supply chain capabilities to assure deliverability of the portfolio.​ 
  • Ensure coherency with the SDA’s commercial strategy – working with the Head of In Service Submarines and the SDA’s Supplier Management Team.​ 
  • Create and assure the SDA’s Activity Based Costing provision with Defence Nuclear Organisation and Navy Command.​ 
  • Ensure coherency with SDA, Navy Command, and Defence Nuclear Organisation infrastructure plans. 
  • Contribute to SDA outputs as part of the SDA’s Senior Leadership Group.​ 
  • Leadership and management of the Submarine Disposal & Devonport Infrastructure team.​ 
  • Influence relevant stakeholders on the future strategy for Submarine Disposals & Devonport Infrastructure.​ 
  • Reporting on performance, up to and including Ministerial level. 

Person specification 

Please evidence all of the following 6 Essential Criteria and ​ where possible the Desirable Criteria in your Supporting ​ Statement 

Essential Criteria: 

  1. Demonstrate success in leading the delivery of a complex major project.​ 
  2. At least 5 years’ Major Project or Programme Management experience in a high hazard and highly regulated environment.​ 
  3. An innovator with experience of delivering and embedding sustainable improvement, preferably through formal change programmes. ​ 
  4. Successful track record of engaging with and influencing a diverse range of stakeholders including customers, regulators and senior industry representatives with the ability to influence across organisations, suppliers and customers. ​ 
  5. Experience developing talent across organisations. ​ 
  6. A proven commitment to Diversity & Inclusion.​ 

Desirable Criteria: 

  • Experience in leading large-scale complex infrastructure projects.​ 
  • Experience of leading large-scale complex projects in the nuclear domain.​ 
  • Chartered Project Professional (APM Standard). 

Personal Skills, Abilities ​and Knowledge 

  • Exceptional influencing, negotiating and stakeholder management skills showing the ability to engage and work with a full range of stakeholders.​ 
  • Ability to lead change and manage ambiguity to effectively drive successful business outcomes.​ 
  • Ability to identify and rationalise interdependencies between multiple issues in complex delivery environments.​ 
  • Aptitude for inspiring colleagues, cultivating change and coaching to develop performance.​ 
  • Capacity to quickly understand information and interpret it to provide constructive advice and support as required. 

The post requires the following to be undertaken upon appointment if not already completed/held:- 

  • Formal Nuclear Training to a level equivalent to Nuclear Introductory Course (NIC) or higher.​ 
  • Completion of the Cabinet Office IPA Major Project Leadership Academy programme.​ 
  • Mandatory Training for Executive Safety Responsible posts as detailed in SDA Safety Process 1 – currently System Safety & Environmental Executive Module​ 

For full information on the role please see the candidate pack.


Job Details

Job title

Head of Submarine Disposal & Devonport Infrastructure


£71,000 – £117,800 per annum (SCS PB 1)

Contract type


Business area

SDA, Project Delivery, Infrastructure, Senior Leadership

Working pattern




Number of posts


Recruitment contact

Jessica Hood –

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