ASTUTE-Class attack submarine, HMS Audacious (S122), was formally commissioned today during a ceremony at HM Naval Base Clyde. Members of the ship’s company and personnel from the Submarine Flotilla (SUBFLOT) were joined at the Faslane site by the boat’s sponsor, Lady Elizabeth Jones, as they welcomed HMS Audacious to the Royal Navy Fleet. The ceremony marks the completion of extensive tests and sea trials for the vessel with Audacious now ready for Royal Navy operations around the globe.
During the ceremony, members of Audacious’ ship’s company formed platoons on the jetty with Lady Elizabeth Jones inspecting them. Afterwards she addressed those gathered for the occasion and cut the commissioning cake. HMS Audacious arrived at HM Naval Base Clyde for the first time on April 7 last year where she joined sister-vessels HMS Astute, HMS Artful and HMS Ambush. The Astute-Class nuclear powered submarines are among the most sophisticated underwater vehicles ever constructed, gradually replacing the Trafalgar-Class submarines which have provided sterling service for almost four decades.
Commander Jim Howard, the Commanding Officer of HMS Audacious, said: “It is an absolute pleasure to be Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy’s newest and most capable SSN. As we now move from sea trials into our operational sea training programme, I and the whole ship’s company are ready for the challenge ahead. This formal commissioning ceremony marks another major milestone in the platform being fully operational and ready for tasking.”
Speaking of the Commissioning, Commodore Jim Perks, Head of the Royal Navy Submarine Service, said: “This is an extremely important day in the life of HMS Audacious and I am delighted that the sponsor, Lady Elizabeth Jones, was able to formally commission this, our fourth Astute-Class submarine, today. Throughout this pandemic, Audacious has delivered her extensive trials programme without fuss and with considerable style. I wish the boat, crew and their families all the very best for the future and look forward to seeing her deliver on operations.”
The Astute class is the latest class of nuclear-powered fleet submarines (SSNs) in service with the Royal Navy. The class sets a new standard for the Royal Navy in terms of weapons load, communication facilities and stealth. The boats are being constructed by BAE Systems Submarines at Barrow-in-Furness. Seven boats will be constructed: the first of class, Astute, was launched by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in 2007, commissioned in 2010, and declared fully operational in May 2014. The Astute class is the replacement for the Trafalgar-class fleet submarines in Royal Navy service.
The Astute class has stowage for 38 weapons and would typically carry a mix of Spearfish heavy torpedoes and Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles, the latter costing £870,000 each. The Tomahawk missiles are capable of hitting a target to within a few metres, to a range of 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres). The Astute Combat Management System is a new version of the Submarine Command System used on other classes of British submarine. The vessels are capable of circumnavigating the globe while submerged, producing their own oxygen and drinking water.