According to reports, the BAE Systems shipyard could be used to build a nuclear submarine as part of a multi-billion defence agreement with Australia.
The UK could provide Australia with a submarine, following the agreement of a three-way pact between the two countries and the USA.
And ministers in Britain are said to be open to the idea of building a nuclear-powered submarine for Australia, similar to the Barrow-built Astute class, securing thousands of jobs for years to come.
BAE Systems is delivering seven Astute Class hunter killer submarines, four of which are in-service with the Royal Navy, building Dreadnought class ballistic missile submarines, and working on designs for a future Submersible Ship Nuclear Replacement (SSNR) programme.
A national newspaper reported that ministers would not lend a Royal Navy submarine to Australia but would be open to building a sub for another ally, such as Australia, in Barrow.
The AUKUS pact hopes to get a new type of submarine beneath the waves for Australia by the mid-2040s.
The report suggests it could take 15 years for crews to gain the necessary experience to command a nuclear sub.
But the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy have already started training together on the British nuclear fleet.
Australia would also need to build a submarine dock technologically capable of storing a nuclear submarine for months at a time.
Simon Fell, Barrow’s MP, said he was hopeful a submarine could be built in Barrow but an agreement was yet to be reached.
“We’re still waiting on an imminent decision from Australia as to what design they choose,” he said.
“I’m hopeful it will be a UK design but we will have to wait a little longer to find out.”
The Government said: “Royal Navy submarines are not being lent to Australia. Australia requested the UK’s support in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines. As close partners, we are meeting that request.
“While talks are ongoing, we will not pre-judge the outcome of the current scoping period, which is being used to understand Australia’s capability requirement.
“We share a long history of co-operation with Australia on security and defence, including on submarines.”
The BAE shipyard in Barrow is currently building the final Astute Class hunter-killer submarines.
Work has also started to produce three Dreadnought Class submarines, which will form the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
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