The latest Astute class submarine to be built by BAE Systems, HMS Anson (S123), was officially commissioned into the Royal Navy during a ceremony at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness on 31 August. At 97 metres long and with a displacement of 7,800 tonnes, the nuclear-powered submarine is the fifth of seven in the Astute class. The Astute submarines are recognised as the most technologically advanced attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy. BAE Systems has delivered the first four submarines in the Astute class which are currently in service with the Royal Navy. The sixth and seventh boats are at an advanced stage of construction in Barrow.
The traditional naval ceremony was attended by a number of dignitaries, including the submarine’s Lady Sponsor, Mrs Julie Weale, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and the UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, who said: “Today is a significant milestone in the UK and Australia’s preparation to confront growing threats to the liberal democratic order, especially in the Indo Pacific. Not only have we progressed our defence planning but Minister Marles participated in the commissioning of our latest attack submarine, on which Royal Australian Navy submariners will be embarked as we develop our shared capabilities in the years ahead.”
BAE Systems Chief Executive, Charles Woodburn, said: “The Astute class submarines are among the finest engineering accomplishments in the world. As the custodian of the UK’s submarine design and build capability, we’re incredibly proud of the role we play in the delivery of this strategic national endeavour.”
BAE Systems Submarines Managing Director, Steve Timms, said: “A great many people in our business and across the submarine enterprise and wider supply chain have been involved in the design and construction of this magnificent vessel, and I want to thank each and every person for their contribution.
The Dreadnought class submarines, which will replace the Royal Navy’s Vanguard class, carrying the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent, are also being designed and built in Barrow. Manufacturing work is well under way on the first two of four Dreadnought submarines, with the first of class due to enter service in the early 2030s. The third programme being undertaken by BAE Systems is for the Royal Navy’s next generation of submarines which will eventually replace the Astute class, referred to as SSN-Replacement (SSNR). Early design and concept work formally began following an £85m contract award by the Ministry of Defence in 2021.