The fifth of the Silent Service’s Astute-class submarines sits in the water as she enters the final stages of construction and commissioning. Now she’s conducting final testing and commissioning of systems, preparing for her first dive – submerging most of the boat in a special dry dock – ahead of leaving Cumbria next year and joining her four sisters in Faslane. HMS Anson was rolled out of her home for the past decade before being lowered into the water at BAE’s yard in Barrow during a delicate two-day operation.
Anson’s crew are key to all these tests, having been increasingly involved in the construction and fitting out process of their boat, which was formally named by her sponsor Julie Weale just before Christmas. After thorough testing and commissioning of some 40 critical systems, the crew are responsible for the boat’s watertight integrity during her time in Barrow as well as general safety aboard. The final stages of the boat’s completion were complicated by the pandemic, which placed particular challenges on the complex operation to lower the hunter-killer into the water.
HMS Anson is the fifth Astute-class nuclear-powered fleet submarine of the Royal Navy. She will be the eighth vessel of the Royal Navy to bear the name, after Admiral George Anson. On 25 March 2010, BAE Systems were given the go-ahead by the government to begin construction on boats 5 and 6 (Anson and Agamemnon), being given a £300 million contract for the “initial build” of boat 5 and “long lead procurement activities” for boat 6. She was officially named on 11 December 2020, was rolled out of the Devonshire Dock Hall on 19 April 2021, and launched on 20 April 2021.
Anson’s nuclear reactor will not need to be refuelled during the boat’s 25-year service. Since the submarine can purify water and air, she will be able to circumnavigate the planet without resurfacing. The main limit is that the submarine will only be able to carry three months’ supply of food for 98 officers and ratings. Anson will have provision for up-to 38 weapons in six 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes. The submarine will be capable of using Tomahawk Block IV land-attack missiles with a range of 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes.