Naval Warfare

Royal Navy’s Newest Astute Class Submarine Officially Named in Barrow

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Royal Navy’s Newest Astute Class Submarine Officially Named in Barrow

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Royal Navy's Newest Astute Class Submarine Officially Named in Barrow
Royal Navy's Newest Astute Class Submarine Officially Named in Barrow

The sixth of the Royal Navy’s leading-edge Astute-class hunter-killer submarines has been formally named – a key milestone on the road to front-line operations. HMS Agamemnon will act as both sword and protector – able to strike at foes on land courtesy of her Tomahawk cruise missile – and fend off threats on and beneath the waves with Spearfish torpedoes. Nearly 11 years after the first steel was cut on the 7,000-tonne Fleet submarine at BAE Systems’ yard in Barrow-in-Furness, the state-of-the-art boat was unveiled to VIPs, led by the submarine’s Sponsor Lady Sedwill, affiliates, friends and family and those who have toiled on ‘Awesome Aggie’ as she’s known by crew, since 2013. In a ceremony which mixed a hi-tech light show and displays with Royal Navy tradition inside the cavernous Devonshire Dock Hall which dominates the Barrow skyline, it fell to Lady Sedwill, who visited the boat late last year to catch up on progress with construction, to address the crew and then smash a bottle of locally brewed-beer – in keeping with the yard’s tradition – to bless Agamemnon and all who will serve aboard for the next 25-plus years.

Proceedings concluded with the cutting of the naming ceremony cake performed by Lady Sedwill and the youngest member of Agamemnon’s 98-strong crew, Catering Services specialist 22-year-old Aydon Hogg. Her naming ceremony three and a half years ago was a low-key affair mid-pandemic, so Agamemnon’s event was a welcome opportunity to truly show off the boat to all those who’ve supported the endeavour to date – an Astute-class submarine is described as a more complex machine than the Space Shuttle – such as affiliates, charities and families. The submarine is the sixth Agamemnon to fly the White Ensign, tracing a history back to 1781. The first ship to bear the name was captained by one Horatio Nelson. It is where he earned his spurs as a leader and she became his favourite vessel thanks to her stealth, power and capabilities – characteristics her 21st Century successor shares “in abundance”. Over the coming months, work will continue on Agamemnon ahead of her being rolled out of the dock hall and carefully lowered into the neighbouring basin for the first time. That will be followed by a period of tests and commissioning of systems alongside, before her maiden dive in the basin followed by departure from Barrow for sea trials and joining the rest of the Astute class at HMNB Clyde

Steve Timms, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Submarines, said: “This is a key milestone for Agamemnon and the UK nuclear submarine programme, and contributes to the Government’s Defence Nuclear Enterprise Command Paper, which underpinned the importance of our business and Barrow in delivering this national endeavour. The Astute Class submarines are a vital component of our nation’s defence capabilities and we are fully focused on completing the remainder of Agamemnon’s programme so she can join her sister submarines in service with the Royal Navy. It is a fantastic honour to be entrusted as the first Commanding Officer of the sixth Astute and the sixth HMS Agamemnon. It is especially nice to be able to share this day with our enterprise partners, our affiliates, friends and families; after all they too will play a key part in delivery of this submarine into service and beyond. The naming ceremony of our HMS Agamemnon is a significant milestone in her build and final preparation for launch. It is a very special day for me, my current ship’s company and those previous Aggies that have moved on to new challenges. We’re looking forward to getting ‘Awesome Aggie’ ready to join her sisters in the Royal Navy fleet,” David ‘Bing’ Crosby said.

The Astute class is the latest class of nuclear-powered fleet submarines (SSNs) in service with the Royal Navy.[2] 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 Queen Camilla, 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. In September 2021, the Ministry of Defence announced a £170 million investment into design work for the successor to the Astute-class. This funding included two £85 million contracts which were awarded to BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce. In March 2023, it was announced that the submarine would be a joint project between the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States and would start to replace the Astute-class in the Royal Navy in the late 2030s. As part of the joint planning within the AUKUS defence group, it was indicated that, from 2027, one Astute-class submarine would forward operate on rotation from HMAS Stirling in Western Australia

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