Audacious, the fourth of seven Astute class attack submarines being built for the Royal Navy, was launched today by BAE Systems at its site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, UK.
The 97-metre long, 7,400 tonne highly-capable nuclear powered submarine which was officially named at a ceremony in December last year, emerged from the site’s giant Devonshire Dock Hall yesterday. Today it was lowered into the dock water for the first time to begin the next phase of its test and commissioning programme ahead of leaving Barrow for sea trials next year.
Will Blamey, BAE Systems Submarines Managing Director, said: “Today’s launch marks an important milestone in the Astute programme and demonstrates our pride in building submarines for the Royal Navy. Audacious enters the water in a more advanced state of build than any previous Astute class submarine, which puts us in a good position for the next phase of work – the testing and commissioning of her complex systems.
“Designing and building a nuclear-powered submarine is extremely challenging and today’s launch is yet another reminder of the unique skills required to deliver such complex programmes. We now look forward to working alongside Audacious’ crew to prepare her for sea trials, before she joins her sister submarines in service with the Royal Navy.”
Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Submarines Rear Admiral John Weale said: “It’s an exciting moment to see Audacious enter the water for the first time ahead of trials. Such a feat of engineering is testament to the skills of the BAE Systems workforce in Barrow. As part of an increasingly capable Royal Navy, Audacious will go on to serve on operations right around the world, helping keep Britain safe.”
Armed with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles, the Astute class submarines are the most highly-capable submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. They can strike at targets up to 1,000km from the coast with pin-point accuracy, are equipped with a world-leading sonar capability and powered by a nuclear reactor. The first three submarines in the class, HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful, are now in service with the final three Astute class submarines are at various stages of construction at the Barrow site.
BAE Systems is the prime contractor in the Astute programme and the UK’s only designer and builder of nuclear powered submarines – one of the world’s most complex engineering challenges. The Company is also the industrial lead for the Dreadnought programme, the Royal Navy’s next generation of nuclear deterrent submarines. Construction of the first of four submarines, named Dreadnought, began last year.
The Company’s Submarines business employs approximately 8,500 people and spends more than £300M per year with over 1,000 direct suppliers – 85 per cent of whom are based in the UK.