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Defence and Security Strategy

Photo: BAE Systems
Photo: BAE Systems

The UK’s submarine capability last week took a significant step forward with work beginning on the assembly of agamemnon, the Royal Navy’s sixth Astute Class submarine.

The keel, which is the first part of the boat to be built, was unveiled at a ceremony at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness by Defence Minister Philip Dunne.

It came as the MoD announced that the first two of the seven Astute Class submarines, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, were nearing completion of their extensive sea trials and have been handed over to the Royal Navy to begin to prepare for operations.

Vigilance learnt the the seven Astute Class submarines are being built for the Royal Navy to replace the Trafalgar Class submarines. The Astute Class has greater firepower, state of the art communications equipment and advanced stealth technology making them quieter than their predecessors and harder to detect.

According to a source at the MoD HMS Astute and HMS Ambush are the first submarines in Class accepted by Navy Command, which is responsible for operating all of the Royal Navy’s vessels. The next three submarines in the Class: Artful, Audacious and Anson are all at varying stages of build and last week’s keel laying for Agamemnon marked the next key milestone for the programme.

Also, the MoD said BAE Systems Maritime Submarines (BAES (MS)) is responsible for delivering all seven Astute Class submarines and for the design of the successor to the Vanguard class, which will carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent, adding the MoD has agreed a new contract with BAES (MS) that will not only help to sustain the thousands of highly skilled defence jobs based at Barrow-in-Furness but drive down the costs of building future submarines.

Last week too, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne signed a new contract that would deliver £380M of savings over the next eight years which will ensure that the Royal Navy’s submarine capability is delivered efficiently and provides good value for money for the taxpayer.

Minister Dunne said: “The keel laying of the sixth submarine, Agamemnon, and the handover of HMS Astute and HMS Ambush to the Royal Navy are huge milestones reflecting significant progress in the programme. By ensuring the UK’s submarine programme remains affordable, this new contract will help deliver the Astute Class and pave the way for the future Successor nuclear deterrent submarines and secure around 5,000 jobs at BAE Systems and thousands more who work in over 400 suppliers across the UK submarine supply chain.”

Rear Admiral Simon Lister, the MoD’s Director of Submarines, said: “This is the sixth submarine in the Astute Class and we expect her to be built more quickly and efficiently than her predecessors, demonstrating the effectiveness of the national submarine building capability in Barrow-in-Furness. New techniques by skilled staff in the back office and on the shop floor will deliver this key capability for the Royal Navy.