HMS Audacious, the fourth of seven Astute-class attack submarines being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, set sail from our Barrow-in-Furness site today. 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. HMS Audacious will prepare for sea trials before entering operational service with the Royal Navy. The departure of HMS Audacious marks a significant milestone in the Astute programme, which is providing seven new attack submarines for the Royal Navy and the capability it needs to defend UK interests at home and overseas.
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. Built by BAE Systems, which employs around 9,000 people in its submarine business in Barrow, including those that work on the Astute programme, which supports thousands more working in the UK supply chain.
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 programmes during the difficult and unprecedented times the country is facing. HMS Audacious will join HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful, which are already in service with the Royal Navy, contributing to operations and supporting the Continuous At Sea Deterrent posture. HMS Audacious will be joined by Astute Boats 5, 6, and 7 – Anson, Agamemnon, and Agincourt are at various stages of construction at Barrow.
The Astute Class submarines feature the latest nuclear-powered technology and the Sonar 2076. The 7,400-tonne boats can circumnavigate the world submerged, limited only by their food storage capacity, manufacturing the crew’s oxygen from seawater as they go. They also have the ability to operate covertly and remain undetected in almost all circumstances despite being 50 per cent bigger than the Royal Navy’s current Trafalgar Class submarines which is being replaced by the Astute Class.