According to In Cumbria Magazine, the Ministry of Defence has announced it will sign a contract for Astute boat seven less than 24 hours after ministers told Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock he would not have to wait long for «good news».
John hailed the announcement, made in a written statement from new defence procurement minister Guto Bebb, as a «huge relief for the workforce and UK naval security».
The breakthrough comes after several fraught months in which Ministry of Defence officials and BAE management were put under pressure to scrap the seventh boat to alleviate the defence equipment funding crisis.
In the formal statement, Mr. Bebb informed MPs: «The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has received approval in principle from Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) to recognise new contingent liabilities associated with the Astute Boat 7 ‘Whole Boat’ Contract».
The announcement paves the way for the formal contract to be signed before the end of the financial years.
Responding after meeting Mr. Bebb about the submarine programme last night, John said: «Thank goodness the government has listened to the arguments and is pressing ahead with Astute boat seven after all. This is a huge relief for the workforce and naval security which would have been gravely undermined if this vital boat had been withdrawn while Russia is modernising its submarine fleet and targeting UK interests. This announcement is a big feather in the cap for the new managing director of Barrow shipyard Cliff Robson who has successfully made the case that scrapping the boat at this late stage would waste hundreds of millions of pounds and send the build programme into disarray. Defence ministers still need to win the argument with their Treasury counterparts on releasing more money for Dreadnought early on in the build programme, but they will go into that battle with renewed confidence after this win».
Last month a leaked navy document showed the scrapping of boat seven was being actively considered.
Mr. Woodcock raised fears for the future of the defence programme, which has already seen Astute-class submarines launched from the town’s shipyard.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Mr. Woodcock claimed it would be «unthinkable» not to build the full order of submarines, given the country’s continued commitment to NATO.
The fourth Astute class submarine, HMS Audacious (S122), which is being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, has achieved a significant milestone by completing her first ever dive.
The trim and basin dive took place over two days in Devonshire Dock, at the Company’s site in Barrow-in-Furness last week.
The operation, which saw Audacious submerge fully under water for the first time, tested many of her on-board systems, and proved the safety and stability of the 7,400-tonne, 318-foot/97-metre-long attack submarine.
Employees from BAE Systems worked alongside Audacious’ crew, including its Commanding Officer, Captain Scott Bower, to complete the test.
Officially named in December 2016 and launched in April last year, HMS Audacious (S122) is scheduled to leave Barrow for sea trials later this year.
HMS Astute (S119), HMS Ambush (S120) and HMS Artful (S121) are already in-service with the Royal Navy. Boats 5 and 6, HMS Anson (S123) and HMS Agamemnon (S124), along with a seventh, as yet unnamed, Astute-class submarine are in different stages of construction at the Barrow site.
HMS Audacious (S122), the fourth of seven Astute class attack submarines being built for the Royal Navy, was launched on April 28 by BAE Systems at its site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, UK.
The 318-foot/97-metre long, 7,400 tonne highly-capable nuclear powered submarine which was officially named at a ceremony in December last year, emerged from the site’s giant Devonshire Dock Hall yesterday. On April 28, it was lowered into the dock water for the first time to begin the next phase of its test and commissioning programme ahead of leaving Barrow for sea trials next year.
Will Blamey, BAE Systems Submarines Managing Director, said: «Today’s launch marks an important milestone in the Astute programme and demonstrates our pride in building submarines for the Royal Navy. Audacious enters the water in a more advanced state of build than any previous Astute class submarine, which puts us in a good position for the next phase of work – the testing and commissioning of her complex systems. Designing and building a nuclear-powered submarine is extremely challenging and today’s launch is yet another reminder of the unique skills required to deliver such complex programmes. We now look forward to working alongside Audacious’ crew to prepare her for sea trials, before she joins her sister submarines in service with the Royal Navy».
Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Submarines Rear Admiral John Weale said: «It’s an exciting moment to see Audacious enter the water for the first time ahead of trials. Such a feat of engineering is testament to the skills of the BAE Systems workforce in Barrow. As part of an increasingly capable Royal Navy, Audacious will go on to serve on operations right around the world, helping keep Britain safe».
Armed with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles, the Astute class submarines are the most highly-capable submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. They can strike at targets up to 540 NM/621 miles/1,000 km from the coast with pin-point accuracy, are equipped with a world-leading sonar capability and powered by a nuclear reactor. The first three submarines in the class, HMS Astute (S119), HMS Ambush (S120) and HMS Artful (S121), are now in service with the final three Astute class submarines are at various stages of construction at the Barrow site.
BAE Systems is the prime contractor in the Astute programme and the UK’s only designer and builder of nuclear powered submarines – one of the world’s most complex engineering challenges. The Company is also the industrial lead for the Dreadnought programme, the Royal Navy’s next generation of nuclear deterrent submarines. Construction of the first of four submarines, named Dreadnought, began last year.
The Company’s Submarines business employs approximately 8,500 people and spends more than £300M per year with over 1,000 direct suppliers – 85 per cent of whom are based in the UK.
HMS Audacious (S122), the fourth submarine in the Astute class, was officially named on 16 December 2016 during a ceremony at our Submarines site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Guests watched as Lady Jones, Audacious’ sponsor and wife of Admiral Sir Phillip Jones, the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, named the 7,400 tonne, 318-foot/97-metre-long attack submarine. In keeping with tradition, she then smashed a bottle of locally brewed beer against her hull.
Tony Johns, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: «Today marks an important milestone in Audacious’ build programme and is the culmination of many years’ hard work. We have already delivered three highly-capable Astute class submarines to the Royal Navy and Audacious now takes another significant step towards joining her sister submarines. This is a fitting end to a very important year for our business, in which we also began construction on the Dreadnought submarine programme and opened the first of our new facilities. The focus for Audacious now turns to getting her ready for launch next year».
Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said: «HMS Audacious is the fourth in our fleet of Astute Class submarines, the largest and most advanced attack submarines in service with the Royal Navy, already providing unprecedented levels of stealth and attack capability across the world. Backed by a rising defence budget and a £178 billion equipment plan, Barrow will remain the hub of our submarine building programmes for years to come».
HMS Audacious (S122) will stay inside the Company’s main construction facility – the Devonshire Dock Hall – following today’s ceremony, before being launched next year.
BAE Systems is the prime contractor responsible for the design, build, test and commissioning of the seven Astute class nuclear-powered attack submarines. It is also the industrial lead for the Dreadnought programme, the Royal Navy’s next generation of submarines that will carry the continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.
The Company’s Submarine operation employs approximately 8,000 people and spends more than £300 M per year with over 3,000 suppliers – 85 per cent of whom are based in the UK.
HMS Artful (S121) test fires first torpedo using new UK-made advanced Combat System. The firing tested the BAE Systems designed Common Combat System (CCS) on board, which functions as the digital «brain» of the boat controlling its «eyes», «ears» and «nervous system».
Using the torpedo test, the cutting-edge system was able to interpret sonar readings, and then attack a moving target with a practice weapon.
The CCS, completed ahead of time so it was ready for the third rather than fourth Astute submarine, uses the latest technology to collect and process huge amounts of data from sensors such as sonar, providing key information to help inform important Command decisions.
The system is so advanced it can even process information fed back from the world-leading Sonar 2076, which allows the Royal Navy to detect and track the quietest of adversaries.
Developed through the Astute Build Programme, the Common Combat System is a collaborative industry effort.
Managed through a £50 million contract with BAE Systems, the CCS hosts sonar processing capability developed by Thales UK, and was also worked on by global hardware provider Dell; Poole-based systems designers Aish Technologies; and cloud computing company VMWare, which employs UK workers in Staines-upon-Thames and Milton Keynes.
Installation work is being undertaken by BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness and Babcock Marine at HMNB Devonport and HMNB Faslane. In total, CCS is sustaining around 146 jobs across the UK.
The next generation Command and Control System will be integrated onto every Astute and Vanguard-class submarine currently in service, and fitted to every new Astute-class submarine coming into service in the future, ensuring consistency right across the fleet. The system will also be used on board the Royal Navy’s next generation of nuclear submarines.
Artful is the first of the Royal Navy’s submarine to get the new Command and Control System – the system will be rolled out across all Vanguard and current and future Astute-class submarines.
Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said: «This Command and Control System, designed as part of an innovative partnership between Defence and UK industry, will allow British submarines to adapt more quickly to changing mission requirements, making operations even safer and more efficient. It is a next generation system, both highly capable and cost-effective, which can be installed right across the Royal Navy’s submarine fleets, thereby guaranteeing the best capability for the Royal Navy and the best value for money for the taxpayer. It is also yet another example of how our £178 billion investment in equipment is giving our Armed Forces the best possible kit».
The capability allows the applications of several different systems, which previously would have needed their own controls, to be brought together in a single computer environment to save precious space within the submarine’s hull. It also allows the Control Room to be used with greater flexibility.
Director Submarines Support at the MOD’s defence procurement organisation, DE&S, Rear Admiral Keith Beckett said: «The Common Combat System allows the Royal Navy to detect and track the quietest adversaries. It is a huge improvement in terms of resilience and flexibility and we’re at the early stages of exploring the system’s huge potential. The successful development of the system is another example of UK Defence working together with British business and enterprise to deliver world-class and battle-winning submarine capability».
Rear Admiral Submarines, John Weale said: «We are seeing the resurgence of the Submarine Service with the introduction of new submarines, a clear direction and motivated personnel. The Common Combat System in HMS Artful (S121) is a strong demonstration of this and helps to deliver my vision for the Service as the UK’s elite underwater force. The unique fighting power of the Royal Navy’s Submarine force, boat for boat and crew for crew, is second to none».
HMS Artful (S121) is undergoing her first combat capability trials since she was handed over to the Royal Navy in mid-December 2015. These trials will be completed by July 2016, after which Artful will undergo a period of maintenance and training to prepare for operations.
The third of the new Astute Class attack submarines, Artful, has officially been handed over to the Royal Navy. Until now the submarine was owned by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the MOD’s body responsible for procuring and supporting equipment for the Armed Forces. The boat and her crew will now be added to the Royal Navy Fleet alongside the Navy’s other units.
Defence Minister Philip Dunne said: «The handover of Artful to the Royal Navy is another major step in the Astute Class submarine programme, which continues to gather pace. These attack submarines will provide the Royal Navy with the most technologically advanced submarine Britain has ever sent to sea and will be a vital part of UK security for decades to come. They are being funded by our growing Defence budget and our £178 billion investment in equipment, which is delivering the very best possible kit to our Armed Forces».
Following her hand over on Thursday 10 December, the next milestone for the boat will be an official commissioning ceremony in March 2016, where her sponsor, Lady Amanda Zambellas, will formally welcome Artful into the fleet in the home of the UK Submarine Service, HM Naval Base Clyde. Lady Zambellas said: «This is a really important milestone in the life of Artful as she takes her place in the Fleet under the White Ensign. I am extremely proud of my association with the submarine and look forward to her commissioning next year when I will also meet the Ship’s Company that will take her on operations around the world».
Since her arrival on the Clyde in August, Artful has continued her programme of Contractor Sea Trials. Most recently Rear Admiral Submarines John Weale became the first officer to be officially piped onboard the Royal Navy’s newest warship, and there was a change of command from Captain Scott Bower to Commander Stuart Armstrong. «I very much welcome Artful’s firepower, state of the art communications equipment and advanced stealth technologies into the fleet», said Rear Admiral Weale, head of the UK Submarine Service.
Artful is one of seven Astute class submarines being built for the Royal Navy by BAE Systems Marine Services (BAES(MS)) in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, which are progressively replacing the Trafalgar Class submarines. HMS Astute, HMS Ambush, and now Artful, are the first of the Class to be accepted by Navy Command, which is responsible for operating all of the Royal Navy’s vessels.
Rear Admiral Mike Wareham, Director Submarines Acquisition at DE&S, the MOD’s procurement organisation, said: «The handover of Artful to the Royal Navy is a proud moment for DE&S reflecting a key milestone and a significant achievement in the Astute programme. It follows a number of sea trials which have successfully demonstrated the submarine’s capability and means she can now begin to prepare for operations with the Royal Navy».
The next two submarines in the Class, Audacious and Anson, are currently being built in Barrow, with Agamemnon and the unnamed Boat 7 to follow. BAE Systems 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, also based at HM Naval Base Clyde.
The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded us a contract for the delivery of the fifth Astute Class submarine, taking the total value for work on the vessel to £1.3 billion. The full contract covers the design and remaining build, test and commissioning activities on Anson (S123), the fifth of seven technologically advanced submarines in the class. Manufacturing commenced in 2010. Anson (S123) is now at an advanced stage of construction at our Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria site and on schedule to leave for sea trials in 2020.
Tony Johns, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: «Signing this contract is an important milestone in the Astute programme. This is a hugely complex national endeavour and we are proud of the role we play in helping to protect our nation’s interests. HMS Astute (S119) and HMS Ambush (S120) are already demonstrating their world-class capabilities with the Royal Navy, whilst the third submarine in the class, HMS Artful (S121), is continuing with her sea trials. The build phase for the fourth, Audacious, is also well advanced, so we continue to make positive progress across the programme».
The contract was announced by Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, during a visit to our Company today. He said: «This £1.3 billion contract marks an important step in the progress of the Astute programme. This is a key part of our £166 billion plan to ensure that our armed forces have the equipment they need to defend the UK’s interests across the seas, in the skies and on land, both at home and abroad. This new contract for Anson not only provides significant financial savings of £50 million to the taxpayer but also secures thousands of jobs in Barrow and across the UK supply chain, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to increase defence spending each year for the rest of the decade».
We employ more than 7,600 people in our Submarines business, including those working on the Astute programme. Boat six Agamemnon and the yet-to-be named seventh are also under construction in Barrow. Astute class submarines mark a step change in defence capability. Powered by a nuclear reactor, each of the submarines will provide land strike, strategic intelligence-gathering, anti-submarine and surface ship warfare capabilities.
BAE Systems is also leading the design phase on the programme to replace the current fleet of Vanguard submarines, which carry the UK’s strategic national deterrent. In readiness for the start of construction on this programme, our site is undergoing significant redevelopment with new facilities to be built alongside the refurbishment of others.
The latest technologically advanced attack submarine HMS Artful (S121) built by BAE Systems set sail from its facility in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, for sea trials on August 13. Commander Bower said: «I am immensely proud and honoured to be leading the crew of Artful. Her capabilities are extraordinary and represent the next step in our country’s century-long history of operating submarines».
Tony Johns, Managing Director, BAE Systems Submarines said: «Seeing Artful exit from Barrow on August 13 is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work from everyone at BAE Systems, our partners and the hundreds of businesses in our supply chain network. BAE Systems in Barrow is a world-class facility, designing and building submarines that are some of the most sophisticated engineering projects in the world. Everyone involved in the Astute programme should feel immensely proud of their achievements as the third in class Astute submarine reaches this significant milestone».
The design and build of the Astute class is a highly complex engineering feat. The 7,400-tonne attack submarines measure 318 feet/97 metres and are powered by nuclear reactors. Each submarine is armed with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles.
Artful is the third Astute class submarine to have been built by BAE Systems. Seven of the class have been commissioned in total and the remaining four boats are currently under construction.
Commander Bower said: «The crew, alongside the workers at BAE Systems have done a sterling job in generating more than a million parts into a submarine. Artful will be home to more than 100 men, and can spend months at a time submerged. She is able to generate her own air and water; food will be her only limiting factor. Having left Barrow, a period of trials begins to put the submarine through her paces, proving all of her systems before she officially becomes part of the Royal Navy’s fleet».
Artful will follow her sister submarines to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Scotland.
HMS Astute (S119)
HMS Ambush (S120)
HMS Artful (S121)
Artful, the latest Astute class submarine built by BAE Systems setting sail from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, for sea trials