NWI - Naval Warfare

UDT Europe: Audacious prepares for sea trials

23rd May 2017 - 17:13 GMT | by Alice Budge in London

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Audacious, the fourth of seven Astute class attack submarines being built for the Royal Navy, was launched in April by BAE Systems and is now being prepared for sea trials.

The 97m long, 7,400 tonne nuclear powered submarine was lowered into the dock water for the first time at the company's site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, marking the next phase of its test and commission programme ahead of sea trials in 2018.

Will Blamey, BAE Systems submarines managing director, said that the launch marked ‘an important milestone in the Astute programme’ and that Audacious entered the water ‘in a more advanced state of build than any previous Astute class submarine’.

Blamey went on to comment that BAE ‘looks forward to working alongside Audacious’ crew to prepare her for sea trials, before she joins her sister submarines in service with the Royal Navy.

According to assistant chief of naval staff submarines, Rear Admiral John Weale, the £1.2 billion attack submarine ‘will go on to serve on operations right around the world, helping keep Britain safe’.

The first three submarines in the Astute class, HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful are already in service with the final three at various stages of construction and testing.

In April, the Ministry of Defence announced it had negotiated a new £1.4 billion contract with BAE for Agamemnon, the sixth Astute class submarine.

However, the new contract was announced just a week prior to a Public Accounts Committee report that criticised the MoD’s continued ‘problems in delivering the Astute submarine programme within budget’.

Replacing the Royal Navy’s Trafalgar class submarines, the Astute class feature the latest nuclear-powered technology, operating covertly and remaining undetected in almost all circumstances despite being 50 per cent bigger than their predecessors.

The submarines also have the ability to circumnavigate the world submerged, manufacturing the crew’s oxygen from seawater as they go and are armed with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles.

Alongside its production of the Astute class, BAE Systems is also the industrial lead for the Dreadnought programme, the Royal Navy’s next generation of nuclear deterrent submarines. 

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