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Astute Class Submarine

Artist's impression of Astute Class submarine underwater
[Picture courtesy of BAE Systems]
Artist's impression of Astute Class submarine at sea
[Picture courtesy of BAE Systems]
Astute on the shiplift
[Picture courtesy of BAE Systems]

The laying of the keel for the HMS Astute in January of 2001 takes the Royal Navy into its second century of submarine operations. HMS Astute is the biggest and most powerful attack submarine to be built for the Royal Navy and, under the Smart Acquisition programme, with lower running costs and will have a much smaller ship's company. Although the Astute will be about 30 per cent larger than the Trafalgar Class this larger hull means that she is much easier to build and maintain.

'HMS Astute will displace 7,800 tonnes dived and is 97 metres long.  She will have six weapons tubes, which means her firepower will be massively increased compared to her predecessors, and she will be equipped from day one to operate cruise missiles.  The keel for the second submarine in the class, HMS Ambush, was laid down in October 2003 and the keel for the third, HMS Artful, was laid down in March 2005.  The MOD is considering plans for a second batch of up to three more of these potent boats, and the final decision is expected soon.

"I have no doubt HMS Astute will be the World Class Submarine the Royal Navy needs. This Agreement is about restoring the confidence and ability to deliver that much needed capability."

DPA Attack Submarine Team Leader, Muir Macdonald.

The Future Role of The Submarine

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."

  • Specialist engineers working on the design of Astute are undertaking complex activities across a vast range of disciplines which are brought together in the creation of a nuclear powered submarine
  • Some fascinating facts and figures about HMS Astute - the largest and most powerful nuclear attack submarine ever built for the Royal Navy
  • More facts and figures about HMS Astute - the largest and most powerful nuclear attack submarine ever built for the Royal Navy
  • BAE Systems Submarine Solutions at Barrow-in-Furness is the prime contractor for the Astute Class of submarine. The company will launch the first boat on June 8 2007 and deliver the vessel to the Royal Navy in August 2008.