Keel Laying

Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, celebrated the keel laying of the future USS Kingsville (LCS-36) at our ship manufacturing facility on February 23, 2022. Kingsville is an Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), one of 18 that the U.S. Navy has contracted Austal to build. The ship is the first U.S. Navy ship named for the city of Kingsville in Texas.

USS Kingsville (LCS-36)
Austal USA hosts keel laying ceremony for future USS Kingsville (LCS-36)

A keel laying ceremony is the formal recognition of the start of a ship’s construction. At Austal USA, the keel laying symbolically recognizes module erection in final assembly and the ceremonial beginning of a ship.

The ship’s sponsor is Katherine Kline, a member of the sixth generation of the King Ranch family, decedents of Captain Richard King who founded the King Ranch located in Kingsville, Texas, in 1853. The Naval Air Station Kingsville, located three miles from Kingsville was founded in 1942 and continues a special relationship with the King Ranch.

As the keel authenticator today, Kline welded her initials onto an aluminum keel plate with the assistance of Austal USA A-class welder, Mr. Joseph Bennett, Jr.

Keel of Harrisburg

Global engineering and defense technologies provider HII announced that the company’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division ceremonially has authenticated the keel of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Harrisburg (LPD-30). The ship’s sponsor, Alexandra Curry, a resident of Middletown, Pennsylvania, and wife of the Middletown mayor, was unable to attend the ceremony so Program Executive Officer Ships Rear Admiral Tom Anderson, stepped in to declare the keel «truly and fairly laid».

USS Harrisburg (LPD-30)
Keel of Harrisburg (LPD-30) Authenticated at Ingalls Shipbuilding

«While she could not join us, we welcome Mrs. Curry in spirit as she is now an important part of our shipbuilding family», said Kari Wilkinson, president of Ingalls Shipbuilding. «We look forward to being with her throughout the life of the ship, and we are very grateful for her commitment to this crew. She is a true patriot, with deep respect and gratitude for military service».

The keel ceremony marked the start of construction for Harrisburg by welding the initials of the ship’s sponsor into a ceremonial plate.

Harrisburg is being built at Ingalls Shipbuilding and will be the first Flight II amphibious ship in the San Antonio class. LPD Flight II is the next generation amphibious ship to replace USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) classes of dock landing ships. Ingalls has delivered 11 San Antonio-class ships to the U.S. Navy and has three more under construction.

The San Antonio class is a major part of the Navy’s 21st century amphibious assault force. The 684-foot-long/208.5-meter-long, 105-foot-wide/32-meter-wide ships are used to embark and land Marines, their equipment and supplies ashore via air cushion or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical takeoff and landing aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey. The ships support a Marine Air Ground Task Force across the spectrum of operations, conducting amphibious and expeditionary missions of sea control and power projection to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions throughout the first half of the 21st century.

Sea Trials

On February 22, 2022, Naval Group started the first sea trials of the FREMM DA ‘Lorraine’ (D657), an important step before the frigate’s delivery. For several days, the eighth FREMM to be delivered to the French Navy and second with enhanced air defence capabilities (FREMM DA), will undergo sea trials off the coast of Brittany.

Lorraine (D657)
Lorraine (D657), the 8th and final Aquitaine-class frigate, setting sails from the Naval Group shipyard in Lorient to start initial sea trials (Naval Group picture)

Ordered by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), on behalf of the French Procurement Agency (DGA) and the French Navy, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) is the eighth and last multi-mission frigate to be built for the French Navy. It is also the second FREMM with enhanced air defence capabilities (FREMM DA).

Two hundred and fifty people are mobilized to prepare this first sea trial. This session will enable the performance of the ship’s propulsion and navigation systems to be tested. Several campaigns will then be carried out to test all the systems. FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) will then be delivered by the end of the year.

«This first sea trial is a very important moment, especially as this is the last frigate of the FREMM series. This is the first time the ship has been at sea. This milestone also symbolizes three years of preliminary work with our teams and partners. Thanks to exchanges since the beginning of this program in 2005, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) carries the most recent and efficient technologies on board», said Didier Trehin, Naval Group’s on-board manager for this first campaign.

After being launched in November 2020, the first sea trial of the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) is taking place on schedule and in accordance with the company’s contractual commitment to deliver the ship in 2022. Naval Group’s teams and partners’ have been mobilized to meet this milestone despite the Covid crisis.

The FREMM program proceeds according to the schedule established by the last Military Planning Law (LPM). Seven FREMMs have already been delivered to the French Navy between 2012 and 2021. Aquitaine (D650) in 2012, Provence (D652) in 2015, Languedoc (D653) in 2016, Auvergne (D654) in April 2017, Bretagne (D655) in July 2018, Normandie (D651) in July 2019 and Alsace (D656) in April 2021. Internationally, the Mohammed VI (701) was delivered to Morocco in 2014 and the Tahya Misr (FFG-1001) delivrerd to Egypt in 2015.


FREMM benefited from the program’s feedback, from the start of the construction

With 3,500 hours at sea per year, the FREMMs’ level of availability at sea is unmatched and is an important source of information. The permanent dialogue between the navies, the DGA, the OCCAR, as well as the construction and maintenance teams, enables Naval Group to propose technologies adapted to the evolution of its customers’ operational needs.

As a result of this operational feedback, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) benefits from the deployment of new functions: enhanced cyber capabilities, deployment of Liaison 22 (link between NATO military units), reduced width mast, replacement of the optronic artillery fire control by a radar/optronic fire control, or the integration of a tactical table.


A polyvalent FREMM that has mobilized all the know-how of Naval Group and its industrial partners

Multi-mission frigates, designed and built by Naval Group, are polyvalent, stealthy and highly automated ships capable of responding to all types of air, sea, submarine or land threats.

The operational excellence of FREMMs is recognized worldwide, such as by the U.S. Navy, whose 6th Fleet has awarded the Hook’em Award to four FREMMs for their excellence in anti-submarine warfare two years in a row.

A multi-mission frigate represents four million hours of work, about half of which benefits the supply chain and local actors. The design, construction and maintenance of FREMMs mobilize two hundred and fifty unique skills, some of which are so specific that they require up to eleven years of training (carpenter-sheet metal worker, hull welder, boilermaker, etc.).

The frigate will be based in Toulon alongside the FREMM DA Alsace (D656) to provide air defence for major units such as the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier or the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA), as part of a naval or amphibious strike group. The FREMMs with enhanced air capabilities, Alsace (D656) and Lorraine (D657), are thus able to carry out the same anti-submarine warfare missions as the other FREMMs in the series, in addition to their enhanced air capabilities.

The FREMM DA also use the most advanced weapons and equipment systems such as the Herakles multifunction radar supplied by Thales, the Aster 15 and 30 and Exocet MM 40 missiles, the MU 90 torpedoes and three additional Combat Management System Setis consoles in the «central operations». Like the other FREMMs, the Lorraine will carry the NH90 helicopter (Caiman Marine), whose use is supported by the SAMAHE system supplied by Naval Group.



Total length 466 feet/142 m
Width 65.6 feet/20 m
Displacement 6,000 tonnes
Maximum speed 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
Operation 123 persons (+ 14 people for the helicopter detachment)
Accommodation capacity 165 men and women
Cruising range at 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h 6,000 nautical miles/6,905 miles/11,112 km


Remote Carrier launcher

Airbus A400M Atlas, the world’s most advanced multi-role airlifter utilised by military forces around the globe, has demonstrated an airborne launch of a drone fulfilling a vital function for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

Do-DT25 drone
Future Combat Air System: A400M clears the first hurdle as a Remote Carrier launcher

During a recent test, an A400M Atlas deployed a drone from its opened rear cargo ramp door whilst airborne, validating its ability to air-launch drones. In the future such unmanned aircraft, called Remote Carriers, can serve as force multipliers for various missions, while keeping the pilots out of harm’s way. Manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) will allow the Remote Carriers to operate in concert with manned aircraft, opening new fields of tactics to surprise, deceive, deter, saturate and strike opponents.

During the A400M Atlas flight test, an Airbus-built Do-DT25 drone, acting as a surrogate Remote Carrier, was released over a test range in Northern Germany. Shortly after the launch, the drone’s parachute opened, delivering it safely to the ground. Throughout the test, the drone was connected and transmitting data to the A400M Atlas «mother aircraft». This data transfer illustrates how Remote Carriers can be connected to a combat cloud network, providing vital information by serving the role of «eyes and ears» over the battlefield, whilst also enabling them to be tasked by the manned aircraft’s operators during their missions.


Building up the expertise in manned-unmanned teaming

The A400M Atlas air-launch demonstration involved a joint flight test crew from the German Air Force and Airbus. The new Modular Airborne Combat Cloud Services (MACCS), also an Airbus product, enabled full connectivity between the airlifter and the drone.

Airbus will continue validation of the A400M Atlas as an airborne launch platform for Remote Carriers, envisioning the ability to deploy large numbers of these drones. The multi-role airlifter’s large cargo bay is expected to be able to hold 40 or more Remote Carriers. By bringing Remote Carriers closer to the fight, an A400M Atlas will provide the numbers in terms of flying platforms for a Future Combat System to serve multiple missions, even in a well-protected environment. The next flight test is planned to happen this year.

In addition, Airbus contribution to the 2021 German Air Force’s Timber Express exercise saw an important development step being cleared. A Eurofighter networking with and tasking two Do-DT25 drones in real-time, became the successful first application of MUM-T with operational military aircraft in Europe.

Previously, Airbus also demonstrated the control of five Do-DT25 drones by a mission group commander who was airborne in a manned command and control aircraft. Validating such elements, as connectivity, human-machine interface, and the concept of teaming intelligence through mission group management, also constitute key steps towards using Remote Carriers as force multipliers within the Future Combat Air System.

Fire support vehicle

Rheinmetall has just unveiled the latest addition to the company’s Lynx next-generation combat vehicle family. The Düsseldorf-based technology group has now developed a mechanized fire support variant of the Lynx KF41 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). Called the Lynx 120, this unique platform merges a tried-and-tested turret concept and the proven 120-mm smoothbore cannon with the Lynx KF 41 chassis. The new mechanized fire support variant of the Lynx offers the user outstanding fire support and anti-tank capabilities.

Lynx 120
Rheinmetall presents the Lynx 120 mechanized fire support vehicle

Thanks to a well-balanced blend of lethality, protection, mobility and survivability, the Lynx 120 is the perfect additional battlefield asset for Lynx platform users. Featuring off-the-shelf components, meticulous engineering reduces the vehicle’s weight, while customizable protection packages round out the package. The vehicle architecture has been simplified and provides an open ‘plug-and-play’ capability for future upgrades, while complying with, and adapting to, NATO standards.

Because armed forces have to cope with future challenges such as high-tech combat systems at a time when conventional solutions and concepts have reached the limits of their performance, the Lynx 120 is designed to deliver maximum lethality and firepower on tracks paired with the latest defence technologies to keep adversaries at bay.

Utilizing the Lynx KF 41 modular chassis and a scalable large-calibre turret concept, the Lynx 120 is a high-performance solution, harbouring vast growth potential and an assured overmatch capability. Just a couple of weeks ago, Rheinmetall Defence Australia unveiled a Combat Support Vehicle (CSV) variant of the Lynx: now there is the fire support version as well.

The basic idea behind the Lynx 120 design concept is to provide a combat system that offers maximum operational performance in combination with logistic advantages within a reasonable timeframe at a realistic cost.

The vehicle’s main armament is a Rheinmetall 120-mm smoothbore gun, derived from the main armament of the Leopard 2. It can fire state-of-the-art DM11 programmable High-Explosive (HE) projectiles. Its secondary armament includes a coaxial machine gun. Moreover, the commander’s independent weapon station will feature an additional .50/cal./12.7-mm machine gun.

A 360° camera system with automatic target detection and tracking reduces the crew’s workload in all operational scenarios.

Special protection modules enable a mission-specific response to ballistic threats, improvised explosive devices, explosively formed penetrators and artillery fire, and can be quickly mounted with limited tools. Moreover, the Lynx 120 can be readily equipped with the proven, already fielded Rheinmetall Active Defence System, or ADS, to defeat rocket-propelled grenades and antitank missiles. Additional armour packages and active protection systems can be provided on request.

Various nations are interested in acquiring the Lynx as a next-generation replacement for their aging inventories. The platform is currently a strong contender in Australian and Slovak IFV modernization plans and is competing for the USA’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) programme. Hungary became the launch customer in 2021. Going beyond strictly military aspects such as increased interoperability and capability upgrades, major localization elements form an integral part of these procurement plans, aimed at boosting local industry and creating jobs.

5G Communications

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has awarded Lockheed Martin a $19.3 million Prototype Project Agreement (PPA) to create a 5G communications network infrastructure testbed for expeditionary operations experimentation for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD R&E) and the U.S. Marine Corps. The testbed, known as Open Systems Interoperable and Reconfigurable Infrastructure Solution (OSIRIS), is a key initiative of Lockheed Martin’s 5G.MIL programs which are positioned to help its customers field, scale and integrate 5G technology rapidly and affordably across all operations on land, water, in air, space and cyber.

Lockheed Martin selected to prototype Next Generation U.S. Marine Corps 5G Communications

«OSIRIS will serve as a critical proof point of Lockheed Martin’s 5G.MIL capabilities», says Deon Viergutz, vice president, Lockheed Martin Spectrum Convergence. «We are integrating the technical capabilities of 5G waveforms, software and hardware with higher bandwidth and low-latency data rates into our defense products to enhance their performance for our warfighters. We want to ensure that warfighters operating in communications contested and denied environments have resilient access to data to perform their missions anywhere in the world».

The OSIRIS program will help address the need for test facilities that enable rapid experimentation and dual-use application prototyping. The testbed will identify areas for further compatibility between 5G network and DOD platforms that will enhance customer capabilities.  The infrastructure will also allow for the connection of various 5G-ready user devices, sensors, vehicles and endpoints to explore the military utility of commercial 5G technologies and pave the way for onboarding of new technologies from other OUSD investments while addressing cybersecurity requirements. This capability will further enable and advance DOD’s Joint All Domain Operations concept.

Teams from Lockheed Martin, along with subcontractors DISH Wireless, Intel Corporation, Radisys Corporation and Rampart Communications, Inc., will create the 5G network testbed infrastructure at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. The period of performance will begin immediately and conclude in September 2024.

Lockheed Martin’s recent agreements with Radisys, Verizon and Keysight Technologies are significant enablers in furthering the DOD’s new warfighting concepts. Through collaboration with commercial companies and leveraging its industry experience, Lockheed Martin’s 5G.MIL programs support the chairman, president and CEO Jim Taiclet’s vision to achieve network effects by bridging commercial technologies into future DOD capabilities that enable JADO and Joint All Domain Command and Control to meet our customer’s and partner’s needs across all operational domains.

Initial Operational Capability

The U.S. Navy announced Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the CMV-22B Osprey, confirming the platform’s operational readiness following the successful completion of its maiden deployment, on February 18, 2022.

CMV-22B Osprey
CMV-22B Ospreys, attached to Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30, fly over Naval Air Station North Island, California. VRM-30, as part of Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, returned to Naval Air Station North Island, California, February 12, 2022, following an eight-month deployment to U.S. 3rd and 7th Fleet areas of operations. The Carl Vinson CSG is the first carrier strike group to deploy with a combination of fourth and fifth-generation platforms within CVW 2 that predominantly represent the «Airwing of the Future», including the F-35C Lightning IIs of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 and the CMV-22B Ospreys of VRM-30 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Olympia O. McCoy)

The aircraft was formally declared IOC on December 14, 2021, aligning with the scheduled first-quarter fiscal year requirement.

«The CMV-22’s maiden deployment with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 and the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) team is an operational success, giving me the confidence necessary to make the declaration», said Rear Admiral Andrew Loiselle, Director, Air Warfare Division, N98, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. «As we continue to deliver the advanced platforms that will make up the Air Wing of the Future, the CMV-22B Osprey provides the necessary support and more to carry our future force».

Loiselle’s designation marks a key milestone in the design, development, acquisition and testing of the CMV-22B Osprey and confirms its relevance and readiness to meet the needs of the Navy’s Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) mission. The aircraft transports personnel, mail, supplies and cargo from shore bases to aircraft carriers at sea, and will eventually replace the C-2A Greyhound.

«IOC designation is more than a stamp of approval», said U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Brian Taylor, V-22 Joint program manager. «It is a vote of confidence from top Navy leadership that the design, testing and production of this aircraft meet the logistical needs of the carrier air wings designated to fly the CMV-22B Osprey».

This past summer marked the first deployment for the CMV-22B Osprey. Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30 embarked on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) alongside the F-35C Lightning II and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye squadrons. The first deployed detachment has executed a mission completion rate of 98% and a mission capable rate of 75%. The CMV-22B Osprey is a crucial element of future carrier airwings due to the cargo capacity needed to transport F-35 power modules and additional logistics support for future carrier air wing deployments with next-generation platforms.

«This aircraft went from first flight to first deployment in 19 months; a feat possible through the dedication of the Navy’s acquisition, engineering, test and operational communities, as well as industry, all working in tandem, toward a common goal», said Taylor.

With 50% more internal fuel than the Marine Corps’ Osprey variant, CMV-22B Osprey can transport up to 6,000 pounds/2,721.5 kg of cargo and personnel over a 1,150 nautical mile/1,323 mile/2,130 km range. The U.S. Navy redesigned the forward sponson fuel tanks and added two wing fuel tanks to add capacity and extend the flight range.

«As our fighter/attack and surveillance aircraft expand in both capability and size to extend the range of the carrier air wing, we must also evolve our support aircraft, in tandem, to supply those platforms. The CMV-22B Osprey will transport cargo and personnel to outfit the most advanced aircraft carrier strike groups as we continue to meet the needs of our missions worldwide», said Taylor.

The program will continue to refine and test capabilities on the aircraft, addressing the agile needs of the fleet. To date, Bell Boeing has delivered 14 aircraft with 44 on contract and full operational capability expected in 2023.

HSVTOL concepts

Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. company, on February 16, 2022 announced its advancement to the next phase of the AFWERX High-Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing (HSVTOL) Concept Challenge, a crowdsourcing effort for the United States Air Force (USAF) and United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). Bell is one of 11 companies from more than 200 challenge entrants selected to receive market research investments aimed at advancing solutions that enable optimal agility in austere environments.

Bell Receives Market Research Investment to Advance U.S. DoD High-Speed VTOL Capabilities

«Bell is thrilled that our HSVTOL concepts have been selected for the next phase of the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX Challenge», said Jason Hurst, Bell’s vice president of Innovation. «In entering this next phase, Bell’s teams will continue to lay the groundwork for the production of another revolutionary military aircraft and provide USSOCOM and the U.S. Air Force with conceptual designs and development roadmaps to accelerate this capability to the warfighter».

Bell’s HSVTOL vehicles blend the hover capability of a helicopter with the speed, range and survivability features of fighter aircraft. This family of scalable aircraft concepts is designed to support a range of missions, including personnel recovery, autonomous Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Strike, and tactical mobility, with low downwash hover capability and jet-like speeds of more than 400 knots/460 mph/741 km/h.

Bell’s concepts are envisioned as part of a broader HSVTOL mission system framework that provides the next generation of speed, range, and survivability. These concepts provide the flexibility to carry out USAF and USSOCOM missions across the full spectrum of conflict and political scenarios. It emerged as a top-tier entrant in the HSVTOL Concept Challenge by meeting or exceeding rigorous evaluation criteria focused on technical merit, reliability, scalability, and other factors.

«The HSVTOL Concept Challenge has surfaced an impressive range and caliber of solutions to help us understand how to build a new class of air vehicles», said Doctor Reid Melville, chief innovation officer, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Transformational Capabilities Office. «We believe the organizations selected to receive market research investments at this stage have the potential to deliver truly groundbreaking innovation».

Over the next six months, Bell will further develop its HSVTOL solution, working closely with the USAF, USSOCOM, and Collaboration.Ai, the prime contractor facilitating the HSVTOL Concept Challenge.

Vertical Launching System

Damen Naval has contracted Lockheed Martin for the MK-41 Vertical Launching System in support of the F126 project. In this way, Lockheed Martin will significantly support the construction of the new frigates for the German Navy.

Multi-Purpose Combat Ship F126
Another milestone for the F126 project: MK-41 Vertical Launching System under contract

The award concerns the MK-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) Direct Commercial Sale contract, which was signed on January 31, 2021. Jorge Ciappi, MK-41 VLS International Business Development Manager is delighted with the trust shown in Lockheed Martin by Damen as the contracting party and the BAAINBw having preselected Lockheed Martin for the scope. The Lockheed Martin scope of supply and services includes the production and delivery of two 8-cell strike length MK 41 VLS Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2 capable modules for each of four ships plus associated engineering efforts and ancillary hardware.

Both the German and Royal Netherlands Navy operate this system. Damen is familiar with the MK-41 VLS system operating on the Netherlands Air Defence and Command Frigate (ADCF) project and various other projects in the export domain. Moreover, the system has a rich 25+ year history with the German Navy, including projects such as the F123 Brandenburg Class and F124 Sachsen Class frigates.

Hein van Ameijden, Managing Director of Damen Naval, says: «This contract is the next logic step for the game-changing project F126. Moreover, it is an excellent example for realizing financial, technical and operative benefits through bi-national cooperation in Europe. Using Lokheed Martin’s MK-41-system on board of the new German frigates carries on a long and successful history of German and Royal Netherlands Navies operating this system for years».

Initially designed with the ability to fire anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, strike, and anti-submarine warfare missiles simultaneously, MK-41 VLS immediately solidified its place as the world’s premier surface-launching system. It’s «Any Weapon/Any Cell» design allows a MK-41 cell to fire any integrated missile providing maximum flexibility. With over 14,000 deployed VLS cells across more than 150 vessels, 4,500 operational and test firings and an operational availability of greater than 99 percent, MK-41 VLS stands as a remarkable testament of the ingenuity. With this system, in combination with other systems and sensors onboard, the F126 has the ability to operate in the most complex maritime environments, and therefore contribute internationally to securing safety and stability.

Damen Naval is building the four F126 class frigates together with its partners Blohm+Voss and Thales. Damen Naval was selected as successful bidder in 2020 following a European tender process spanning several years. The first ship is expected to be delivered to the German Navy in 2028. All building work will be carried out entirely in Germany at shipyards in Kiel, Hamburg and Wolgast.

First practice dive

The Navy’s newest hunter-killer submarine HMS Anson (S123) has completed what a submarine should do – submerge – for the first time.

HMS Anson (S123)
Hunter-killer HMS Anson (S123) completes first practice dive in dock

The fifth Astute-class boat – £1.3bn of cutting-edge underwater naval power and technology – has successfully come through her first dive in the safety of a dock in Barrow.

The trim dive – carried out over two days – allows architects, experts and engineers calculate the boat’s precise weight, stability and centre of gravity, all key factors in Anson’s performance when she formally joins her four older sisters already in service with the Royal Navy’s submarine flotilla.

The dock at BAE Systems’ Barrow-in-Furness yard – where HMS Anson (S123) has been built over the past 11 years – features a giant chasm or ‘dive hole’.

Long and wide enough to accommodate a Royal Navy nuclear submarine, even at 25 metres (82 feet) it’s not quite deep enough to cover an A-class boat entirely, but it does leave only the conning tower and tailfin protruding from the cold waters of the Devonshire Dock.

The dive is a slow process as the 60 crew, engineers and shipwrights check for the hull’s watertight integrity and move around trollies collectively carrying 16 tonnes of lead weights so naval architects can confirm the stability of the 97-metre/318-foot-long nuclear submarine at sea.

«The start of the trim and basin dive is a key step in the commissioning of HMS Anson», said the boat’s first Commanding Officer, Commander David ‘Bing’ Crosby. «This successful first dive of the RN’s newest Fleet submarine is a direct result of weeks of intense, driven, joint team progress, in particular since Christmas».

Initial feedback from the test dive is a resounding thumbs up, allowing the BAE-Anson team to push ahead with the remainder of her testing and commissioning programme, preparing the boat for her maiden voyage.

Commander Crosby continued: «All involved should be very proud; the entire enterprise has again come together to achieve this evolution safely and on date – clear evidence of our joint approach and demonstrates what we can achieve when we all pull together. I would like to thank my team who have all worked wonders over the last few weeks to support and assure this event».

John Moorby, BAE Systems Submarines Astute Programme Director, hailed «a significant milestone in the submarine’s test and commissioning phase».

He added: «It demonstrates the continued successful collaboration between BAE Systems, the Submarines Enterprise, and our suppliers on delivering this national endeavour for the UK Royal Navy».

That national endeavour continues – not just with completing HMS Anson (S123), but also the sixth and seventh boats in the Astute-class, HMS Agamemnon (S124) and HMS Agincourt (S125), and HMS Dreadnought, the first of the next-generation nuclear deterrent submarines, all under construction in the gigantic Devonshire Dock Hall which dominates the Barrow skyline.