Tag Archives: HMS Audacious

MOD Releases Funds for More Astute Class Submarines

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Fourth Astute class submarine, Audacious, under construction in the Devonshire Dock Hall. Photo: BAE Systems

The UK MOD has committed £2.7 billion for continued work on the Royal Navy future attack submarines. The programme, which has been beset by difficulties since it was commissioned in 1997, is expected to cost up to £10bn for a seven-submarine fleet that is already years late.

The lead submarine of this new class, HMS Astute had suffered technical problems that raised questions about the performance and reliability of the boat. Last November, the Guardian revealed that during sea trials, HMS Astute, the lead ship of this new class, has been unable to reach its intended top speed. Other problems that have affected the boat in recent months include:

  • Flooding during a routine dive that led to Astute performing an emergency surfacing.
  • Corrosion even though the boat is essentially new.
  • The replacement or moving of computer circuit boards because they did not meet safety standards.
  • Concern over the instruments monitoring the nuclear reactor because the wrong type of lead was used.
  • Questions being raised about the quality and installation of other pieces of equipment.
  • Concern reported among some crew members about the Astute’s pioneering periscope, that does not allow officers to look at the surface “live”.

On Friday, October 22, 2010, Tug boats moved in to assist HMS Astute after it ran aground in shallow water off the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The sub ran into trouble near the Isle of Skye during a routine maneuver that included dropping some sailors ashore, according to reports. During the operation to tow Astute clear, there was a collision between the rescue tug and the submarine, which resulted in damage to her starboard foreplane. The submarine returned under her own power to Faslane, where the damage incurred in the grounding and afterwards was described as “minor”.

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Astute aground with the emergency tow vessel Anglian Prince

According to the new contract announced last week, MOD awarded BAE Systems a contract worth £1.2bn for Audacious, the fourth submarine in the Astute class. The full contract covers the design, build, test and commissioning programme. First steel was cut in 2007 and Audacious is at an advanced stage of construction at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

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HMS Astute seen along HMS Dauntless on one of her recent missions. Photo: MOD

The MoD also confirmed that a further £1.5bn has been committed to the Astute programme for the remaining three submarines in the class, which includes early build work on boat 5 HMS Anson, whose keel was laid in October 2011.

Planning for Audacious began in 2007 and her keel was laid at Barrow in March 2009, according to the Royal Navy website. The submarine will benefit from improvements identified during building of HMS Astute (commissioned 27 August 2010), HMS Ambush (currently on sea trials, launched at 5 January 2011) and HMS Artful (keel laid down 11 March 2005). Three more submarines are planned in the future, orders had been made for 2; HMS Anson (under construction, ordered March 2010, keel laid down 13 October 2011), HMS Agamemnon (ordered March 2010) and HMS Ajax (confirmed but not yet ordered).

Source – Defence update

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HMS Audacious: MoD announces £1.2bn submarine contract

HMS Audacious: MoD announces £1.2bn submarine contract

A new attack submarine, HMS Audacious, has been commissioned by the Ministry of Defence in a contract worth £1.2bn.

Diagram of HMS Astute

The BAE Systems deal, which will secure 3,000 jobs at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, will progressively replace the Trafalgar Class currently in service.

A further £1.5bn has been committed to the remaining three Astute Class submarines being built, the MoD said.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the contracts would offer the UK’s armed forces “greater certainty”.

Audacious will be the fourth of the seven Astute Class submarines being built for the Royal Navy.

Forget what you may have seen on Das Boot or the Hunt for Red October. Instead, Astute has cameras fitted on a mast that feed live pictures into the control room.

Unlike the old periscope that would pop out of the water for minutes at a time, Astute’s mast breaks cover for just a few seconds. It can record what it sees, giving the crew time to analyse the images. It’s another feature that makes the submarine harder to detect.

There are some things, though, that the 100-plus crew, and the visiting admirals, appear less keen to discuss. Its speed for one, which I’m told is not an issue, but is classified.

The first two boats, Astute and Ambush, are currently undergoing sea trials. The third boat, Artful, is reaching the final stages of her construction at Barrow shipyard. All three are to be based at Faslane on the Clyde.

Early work has been started on the fifth vessel, Anson, while preparation has begun on submarines six and seven which are as yet unnamed.

It emerged last month that Astute had encountered several problems during its sea trials, including leaks and electrical switchboards which were were found to be fitted incorrectly.

Concerns also emerged last year about the accuracy of nuclear reactor monitoring instruments during testing.

Mr Hammond said: “This contract marks an important step forward in the progress of our attack submarine programme and moves the Royal Navy closer to adding more of these highly-advanced and powerful attack submarines to its fleet.

“Our ability to commit an additional £1.5bn for boats five, six and seven underlines the benefits of a balanced budget and fully-funded equipment programme that gives our armed forces greater certainty.

“This funding demonstrates our commitment not only to a key Royal Navy capability, but also to the submarine industry in Barrow, which will play a vital role in Britain’s defence for decades to come.”

Source: BBC