THE latest super sub to be built in Barrow has been christened during a dramatic naming ceremony.
Artful, the third Astute-class submarine, is set to take its first dip into the water at the beginning of next year, and yesterday, Royal Navy bosses, local dignitaries and cadets poured inside the Devonshire Dock Hall to witness the boat’s naming ceremony.
A small section of the hall was cordoned off with black and white voile curtains, with glimpses of the submarine visible from behind. As the ceremony began, the curtains fell one by one, to reveal the 7,400-tonne boat.
The naming was carried out by Amanda Lady Zambellas, wife of the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas.
The symbolic smashing of a bottle of beer against the boat’s bow drew some gasps from the crowds as it failed to smash on the first attempt.
According to naval folklore, if the bottle fails to smash, the ship will be destined for an unlucky life at sea.
However, John Hudson, managing director of BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines in Barrow, was not concerned.
“I’m not at all superstitious,” he said smiling.
The 97-metre long submarine will be followed by a further four boats and preparation is continuing for the Royal Navy’s next fleet of submarines – a replacement for the Vanguard boats.
A final decision – known as “Main Gate” – is due to be made after the next general election, and both Mr Hudson and Rear Admiral Simon Lister are confident about the Successor programme.
Rear Admiral Lister, who visits the shipyard three times a month to monitor progress of the Astute programme, told the Evening Mail: “I am confident we will make a good proposal for Successor.
“We look forward to going to Main Gate and the final decision.”
Those who attended the ceremony, including many of the shipyard’s 5,000 workers, were treated to a performance by Ulverston Victoria High School’s Big Band.
Laughs were drawn from the crowd during a comical and staged discussion between two of the band’s singers, when one said to the other: “So I won’t tell anyone you’re a Russian spy!”
Many of the engineers, welders and technicians who have been involved in Artful’s build were able to watch the ceremony.
The creature on the boat’s crest, chosen in 1945 by the Admiralty’s advisor on heraldry for the first Artful, is an unspecified species of primate.
Artful crew member Lieutenant Aaron Williams, 24, from Bradford, explained: “When I did a little research into the crest, I found out that it was chosen to represent the quality of artfulness, monkeys having the reputation of being clever and resourceful creatures.”
Source – North West Evening Mail