Astute is the largest, most advanced and most formidable vessel of its kind ever operated by the Royal Navy. She incorporates the latest stealth technology combined with a world beating sonar system and equipped with Spearfish torpedoes and state of the art Tomahawk land attack missiles to make her a supremely effective naval asset.
The Astute class will progressively replace the Swiftsure and Trafalgar classes from 2011.
Displacing 7,400 tonnes and measuring 97 metres from bow to propulsor, Astute is significantly larger than the Swiftsure and Trafalgar class submarines that she will replace but requires fewer crew to operate her due to the advanced technology and automated systems on board.
When she becomes operational on completion of Sea Trials she will be capable of circumnavigate the globe without surfacing and with the advance of nuclear technology she will never need refuelling.
Astute is designed to fulfil a range of key strategic and tactical roles including anti-ship and anti-submarine operations, surveillance and intelligence gathering and support for land forces.
DE&S Director Submarines, Rear Admiral Simon Lister.
The role of the submarine in the Royal Navy is changing as Rear Admiral Stevens, Flag Officer Submarines (FOSM), explained recently.
"The services SSN community has made a decisive break away from its Cold War emphasis on anti-submarine warfare (ASW)to embrace the Navy's new operational concept of Maritime Contributions to Joint Operations. The challenge now is to realise the full potential of the SSN across its wider range of taskings. Operations in direct support of surface forces are becoming a far more important part of the submarine service's operations.
"The introduction of new secure communications links will provide the improved connectivity essential for operating in conjunction with other task force units. Advances in the technological areas of digitisation, miniaturisation and processing of information gathered, will enable the submarine to become an increasingly valuable asset in covert intelligence gathering operations."