The Royal Navy has officially accepted the fourth of seven Astute Class fast attack submarines, HMS Audacious built by BAE Systems at the company’s Barrow-in-Furness site.
New ways of working and amended protocols have been introduced at the site, in line with government guidelines, to enable a small team of employees to provide vital support to the Royal Navy ahead of the boat’s departure, while protecting their health and wellbeing.
The submarine was guided into open water for the first time before setting off on her inaugural journey to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the home of the UK’s Submarine Service.
Cliff Robson, managing director of BAE Systems Submarines, said, “This is an incredibly difficult time for employees, their families and the community but, as is often the case in times of great adversity, it has been truly humbling to see everyone come together to support the government’s critical defence programs and help deliver HMS Audacious.”
The boat’s departure comes days after the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, thanked the defence industry for its efforts to continue to deliver critical and nationally important defence operations and programs during the difficult and unprecedented times the country is facing.
Ian Booth, chief executive of the Submarine Delivery Agency, added, “The departure of HMS Audacious from Barrow is a key milestone in the Astute Class program. The delivery of our incredibly complex submarine programs depends on the extremely skilled submarine workforce and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain to deliver a first-class product for the Royal Navy.”
The 97-metre, 7,400-tonne Astute Class submarines are the most capable submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. The first three submarines, HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful, are in service, while the final three Astute Class are at various stages of construction at Barrow.
“I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in the significant efforts to meet this milestone and the key roles they have played in the shadow of these unprecedented circumstances to get HMS Audacious to sea,” Booth added.
The Astute Class will equip the UK Royal Navy with its largest and most powerful fleet of attack submarines. The Astute Class is designed and engineered to be the stealthiest submarine of her type, equipped with the latest and most powerful sonar suite and secure communications facilities, while exhibiting a low noise signature and optimum detection avoidance characteristics.
The seven Astute Class nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) will have the capability to circumnavigate the globe without surfacing, limited only by their food storage capacity. Able to deploy rapidly, they are powered by a nuclear reactor that can run for their 25-year lifespan without refuelling.
Built in the Devonshire Dock Hall at BAE Systems Maritime - Submarines Barrow shipyard, the Astute Class marks the latest chapter in the town’s illustrious history of shipbuilding and submarine building.