Tag Archives: Astute class

Fifth Astute class submarine

HMS Anson (S123), the fifth Astute class submarine, which BAE Systems has designed and built for the Royal Navy, has departed the Company’s shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, and headed out to open sea for the first time.

HMS Anson (S123)
BAE Systems delivers fifth and most advanced Astute submarine to the Royal Navy

After being guided through the shipyard’s dock system and rounding the tip of Walney Island, HMS Anson (S123) began her maiden journey to His Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, home of the UK’s Submarine Service. She will undertake sea trials before joining HMS Astute (S119), HMS Ambush (S120), HMS Artful (S121) and HMS Audacious (S122), in operational service with the Royal Navy.

«HMS Anson (S123) will play a vital role in defending the UK, providing a competitive edge for decades to come, and I am proud to see her make her journey up to her permanent home on the Clyde. Supporting tens of thousands of jobs across the UK, our Astute-Class submarines are a leading example of our commitment to defence manufacturing, continuing to boost British industry for decades to come», said Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence.

«It’s with enormous pride that we bid farewell to HMS Anson (S123) as she departs our site to take up her vital role helping to protect the UK’s national security. This is a truly national endeavour, so delivering the most capable attack submarine ever built for the Royal Navy is a tremendous moment for our company, our employees, the Barrow community and the whole of the submarine enterprise, not least our vast and crucially important UK wide supply chain», said Steve Timms, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Submarines.

HMS Anson, which was formally commissioned into the Royal Navy during a ceremony in Barrow last year, is 97 metres/318 feet long and weighs 7,400-tonnes. The Astute class are equipped with world-leading sensors, carry Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes and can circumnavigate the globe submerged, producing their own oxygen and drinking water. BAE Systems has delivered the first four submarines in the Astute class and the sixth and seventh boats are at an advanced stage of construction in Barrow.

The Dreadnought class submarines, which will replace the Royal Navy’s Vanguard class, carrying the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent, are also being designed and built in Barrow-in-Furness with manufacturing work underway on the first three of four boats.

BAE Systems is also undertaking early design and concept work for the Royal Navy’s next generation of submarines which will eventually replace the Astute class, referred to as SSN-Replacement (SSNR).


The world’s most advanced hunter-killer submarine was on 31 August 2022 welcomed into the Royal Navy fleet at a ceremony in Barrow.

HMS Anson (S123)
The fifth of the advanced Astute-class hunter-killer submarines was today welcomed into the Royal Navy fleet at a ceremony in Barrow

HMS Anson (S123) is £1.3bn of both naval stealth and striking power – able to gather vital intelligence, protect other Royal Navy vessels from threats above and below the waves and destroy enemy military infrastructure with pinpoint accuracy.

The submarine was commissioned at BAE Systems’ yard in Cumbria in front of her crew and their families, plus naval leaders, Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, and the sponsor (patron), Julie Weale.

Anson is the fifth of the new Astute-class submarines to join the Royal Navy fleet, joining HMS Astute (S119), HMS Ambush (S120), HMS Artful (S121) and HMS Audacious (S122).

The boat’s first Commanding Officer, Commander David Crosby, said that given the effort, skill and enterprise invested in constructing the submarine, made more challenging over the past two and a half years by the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

«HMS Anson (S123) would go on to be the best Astute-class submarine yet. Among tough competition that is a bold claim, but I fully believe it; she will be successful on operations for years to come and be envied by nations across the globe. The good fortune to be commanding officer of the most advanced and capable attack submarine ever built in the UK on her commissioning day is the greatest honour of my submarine career», said Commander David Crosby, CO of HMS Anson (S123).

Also, among those eager to see Anson in action is the new head of the Royal Navy Submarine Service, Commodore Paul Dunn.

«The commissioning is a significant milestone for both Anson and the Submarine Service and I would like to thank the crew, BAE Systems and the ‘submarine enterprise’ for the delivery of our fifth Astute class», he said. «I look forward to welcoming Anson to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the home of the Submarine Service, in the near future».

Armed with a combination of up to 38 Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk Block V cruise missiles, HMS Anson (S123) can take out enemy ships/submarines, destroy land targets up to 1,000 miles/1,609 km away and launch and recover Royal Marines raiding and reconnaissance teams – among other capabilities.

«Given the world we live in, there is no more important tool in the United Kingdom’s arsenal: silent, unseen, and a key instrument of our global, modern, ready Royal Navy. HMS Anson (S123) is the cutting edge in submarine design and construction… ensuring operational advantage in the underwater battlespace, the last great stealth domain. The Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines: protecting critical national infrastructure, securing the nuclear deterrent, and ready to deliver firepower against those who would do us harm», said Admiral Sir Ben Key, First Sea Lord.

The Astute programme is one of the most complex engineering projects in the world.

Anson will remain in Barrow for several more weeks undergoing final checks, tests and tweaks to her system before she sails for her future home at HM Naval Base Clyde in Faslane, where she will prepare for sea trials.

It has taken more than 11 years – and some 20 million hours’ work by an estimated 10,000 people from 400 firms and organisations across the UK – for the 8,000-tonne boat to be ready for action.

The Chaplain of the Fleet, The Venerable Andrew Hillier, blessed HMS Anson (S123) and her 98 crew after Commanding Officer, Commander Crosby, read out instructions received from the Navy’s Fleet Commander to commission the submarine and prepare her for front-line service.

Proceedings – which saw the Royal Marines Band Scotland provide the appropriate music – ended with the White Ensign being hoisted for the first time and a commissioning cake cut by Mrs. Weale and the youngest member of the crew.

Anson’s sponsor – whose husband was head of the Silent Service before retiring in 2020 – told those present that the boat was «fabulous», and she was keen now to see the submarine at sea and enter service.

«I wish you all the best of luck with what is to follow and will be in full support of everything you do», she added.

HMS Anson (S123) was officially named by her sponsor in the same yard in December 2020 with a bottle of cider smashed against the hull (the drink was favoured by her namesake, 18th-Century Admiral George Anson, as a cure for scurvy).

She was rolled out of the cavernous Devonshire Dock Hall in April last year and slowly lowered into Wet Dock, since when engineers and crew have been working on her systems and testing equipment.

In February, the boat conducted a dive in Barrow to ensure the dive/surface systems and ballast tanks, depth sensors and sonars were in full working order and HMS Anson (S123) was accurately balanced and stable when submerged.

Tomahawk Block V

The UK’s stock of Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) will be upgraded on Royal Navy submarines to ensure the weapon is even more effective against future threats.

Tomahawk Block V
£265 million missile upgrade for UK submarines

In a £265 million contract with the U.S. Government, with maintenance and technical support at the UK sites of BAE Systems, Babcock International and Lockheed Martin, the Royal Navy’s Astute-Class submarines will be armed with an enhanced Block V standard missile, capable of striking severe threats at a range of up to 1,000 miles/1,609 km.

The upgraded missile will be able to travel further than the previous Block IV iteration, maintaining a precision-strike capability that is unmatched in range and accuracy. The upgrade will also make the weapon less vulnerable to external threats, with modernised in-flight communication and target selection.

At approximately 5.6 m/18.4 feet long and weighing 2,200 kg/4,850 lbs. – a similar weight to a 4×4 car – the high sub-sonic Tomahawk was first introduced into UK service in 1998 and can hit in-land targets from the sea within minutes. A weapon of choice since then, it has been successfully deployed during operations in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq.

Minister for Defence (MOD) Procurement, Jeremy Quin, said: «This upgrade will equip our Astute-Class attack submarines with the one of the most lethal and precise long-range strike weapons. Enhancing this cutting-edge missile system will ensure the UK can strike severe threats up to 1,000 miles/1,609 km away. The Tomahawk missiles will be upgraded as part of a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) with the U.S. Government, which was negotiated by the MOD’s procurement arm, Defence Equipment and Support and will be active from July. Making use of existing U.S. research and expertise on the upgraded missile, the contract will mean the UK continues to receive full access to the U.S. Tomahawk programme, support package and upgrades».

DE&S Director Weapons, Ed Cutts, said: «Not only will this FMS sustain and improve a proven, crucial operational capability for any future conflicts, it will continue to ensure interoperability with our U.S. allies and the follow-on support arrangements will sustain jobs for UK industry. As Block IV is upgraded to Block V from 2024, it will modernise and improve in-flight communications and navigation, making the missile more effective against future threats around the globe. The Foreign Military Sale also includes missile maintenance, recertification of existing missiles, spares, operational flight testing, software, hardware and training provisions».

Director Submarines, Rear Admiral Simon Asquith said: «The Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile is a cutting-edge system which provides the UK with real strategic and operational choice. Able to be fired from a stealthy UK nuclear attack submarine, the system’s exceptional range, accuracy and survivability provides the UK, alongside our US Allies, with a world beating precision strike capability. The announcement builds on commitments made in the Defence Command Paper and Integrated Review, in addition to Royal Navy mission planning and weapon control system upgrades that will improve the performance of legacy Block IV missiles. Due to be operational in the mid-2020s, the upgraded Tomahawk will align with the delivery of the latest Astute submarines».

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.

Fourth Astute-class

Astute-class attack submarine, HMS Audacious (S122), was formally commissioned on 23 September 2021 during a ceremony at HM Naval Base Clyde.

HMS Audacious (S122)
Fourth Astute-class submarine formally commissioned

Members of the ship’s company and personnel from the Submarine Flotilla (SUBFLOT) were joined at the Faslane site by the boat’s sponsor, Lady Elizabeth Jones, as they welcomed HMS Audacious (S122) to the Royal Navy Fleet.

The ceremony marks the completion of extensive tests and sea trials for the vessel with HMS Audacious (S122) now ready for Royal Navy operations around the globe.

Commander Jim Howard, the Commanding Officer of HMS Audacious (S122), said: «It is an absolute pleasure to be Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy’s newest and most capable SSN. As we now move from sea trials into our operational sea training programme, I and the whole ship’s company are ready for the challenge ahead. This formal commissioning ceremony marks another major milestone in the platform being fully operational and ready for tasking».

During the ceremony, members of Audacious’ ship’s company formed platoons on the jetty with Lady Elizabeth Jones inspecting them. Afterwards she addressed those gathered for the occasion and cut the commissioning cake.

HMS Audacious (S122) arrived at HM Naval Base Clyde for the first time on April 7 last year where she joined sister-vessels HMS Astute (S119), HMS Artful (S120) and HMS Ambush (S121). The Astute-Class nuclear powered submarines are among the most sophisticated underwater vehicles ever constructed, gradually replacing the Trafalgar-Class submarines which have provided sterling service for almost four decades.

Equipped with sophisticated sensors, the Astute-Class submarines carry both Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles (TLAM) and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes.

The vessels are capable of circumnavigating the globe while submerged, producing their own oxygen and drinking water.

Speaking of the Commissioning, Commodore Jim Perks, Head of the Royal Navy Submarine Service, said: «This is an extremely important day in the life of HMS Audacious (S122) and I am delighted that the sponsor, Lady Elizabeth Jones, was able to formally commission this, our fourth Astute-Class submarine, today. Throughout this pandemic, Audacious has delivered her extensive trials programme without fuss and with considerable style. I wish the boat, crew and their families all the very best for the future and look forward to seeing her deliver on operations».


HMS Anson (S123), the fifth of seven Astute class attack submarines being built for the Royal Navy, has been launched at our site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

HMS Anson (S123)
Fifth state-of-the-art Astute submarine is launched

The 7,400-tonne nuclear-powered submarine, officially named at a ceremony in December, emerged from the Devonshire Dock Hall and entered the water for the first time earlier on April 20, 2021. The launch was a special moment for the Barrow shipyard, which is celebrating its 150th year and a long and proud relationship with the Royal Navy.

HMS Anson (S123) will now begin the next phase of its test and commissioning programme, before leaving Barrow for sea trials with the Royal Navy next year.

Steve Timms, Managing Director BAE Systems Submarines: «The launch marks an important milestone in the Astute programme and seeing Anson enter the water at such an advanced state is a tangible demonstration of everyone’s hard work over the years. Designing and building nuclear-powered submarines is a national endeavour and days like this bring a huge sense of pride for our workforce, our partners in the submarine enterprise and our UK supply chain, not to mention our communities. We now look forward to a successful test and commissioning phase and working alongside Anson’s crew to prepare the submarine for operations with the Royal Navy».

The Astute class boats are the largest and most advanced attack submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. Measuring 97 metres/318 feet in length, the boats can circumnavigate the globe submerged, producing their own oxygen and drinking water.

The first four submarines in the class, HMS Astute (S119), HMS Ambush (S120), HMS Artful (S121) and HMS Audacious (S122), have been handed over to the Royal Navy, with a further two boats currently under construction at our Barrow site.

Working alongside the Submarine Delivery Agency and Rolls-Royce, the Company is also a member of the Dreadnought Alliance, helping to deliver the UK’s next class of nuclear deterrent submarines. Two of the four submarines are under construction, with the first due to enter service in the early 2030s.

Approximately 10,000 people work on the Dreadnought and Astute programmes at our Barrow site. To deliver these complex programmes, we continue to invest in and develop our employees and recruit new talent. Over the next five years, we expect to recruit more than 200 graduates and 1,500 apprentices.

Christening of Anson

The fifth Astute class submarine has officially been named Anson in a ceremony at BAE Systems’ Submarines site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

HMS Anson (S123)
Fifth Astute class submarine named Anson at Barrow-in-Furness

In line with tradition, Anson was blessed by The Venerable Martyn Gough QHC, Chaplain of the Fleet and Archdeacon for the Royal Navy and then christened with a bottle of cider being smashed against her hull.

The 97 metre long, 7,400 tonne submarine is due to be launched into the water in Barrow early next year, ahead of leaving for sea trials in 2022.

Cliff Robson, Managing Director, BAE Systems’ Submarines: «The naming of Anson is a significant step towards her joining the other four Astute class submarines already in service with the Royal Navy. Throughout this year, we’ve adapted the business to keep our people safe whilst allowing them to continue the important role of delivering critical capability to our customer. Reaching this important milestone is testament to the dedicated work of our workforce, our Royal Navy partners and the Submarine Delivery Agency».

More than 1,700 people work on the Astute programme, which is delivering seven attack submarines to the Royal Navy. Earlier this year, HMS Audacious, the fourth boat in the class, left Barrow for her operational base, at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Faslane.

Work is also well under way in Barrow on Astute boats six and seven, as well as the first two boats in the Dreadnought class, which is the next generation of nuclear deterrent submarines.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, work on both Astute and Dreadnought has continued throughout this year, with major changes being implemented across its Barrow and satellite sites to enable employees to work safely and adhere to social distancing. It is for that reason that only a handful of people were able to witness the naming ceremony.

Each submarine has a sponsor whose role includes carrying out the official naming. Anson’s sponsor is Julie Weale, the wife of Rear Admiral John Weale, who retired from the Royal Navy as Head of Submarine Service and Flag Officer Scotland and North Ireland earlier this year.

Ian Booth, Chief Executive, Submarine Delivery Agency (SDA): «This is the first submarine to bear the name, HMS Anson, but the eighth naval vessel to carry the title which has a rich history spanning several hundred years. I am certain she will carry on that heritage well into the future as she joins a world-beating, cutting-edge submarine fleet that is of strategic importance to the UK’s security and prosperity».

Advanced nuclear technology means the Astute class submarines never need to be refuelled and they can manufacture their own oxygen and fresh water from the ocean, meaning they are able to circumnavigate the world without surfacing. With 98 crew able to monitor world-leading sensors, the Astute-class carry both Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles (TLAM) and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes.

BAE Systems’ Submarine business employs approximately 10,000 people mainly in the North West of England with many more in the supply chain. The business spends more than £1 billion per year with over 1,000 suppliers who support the Astute and Dreadnought programmes, more than 85 per cent of whom are based in the UK.

Sea Trials

HMS Audacious (S122), the fourth of seven Astute-class attack submarines being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, set sail from our Barrow-in-Furness site on 6 April 2020.

HMS Audacious (S122) sets sail for her home base

New ways of working and amended protocols have been introduced at the site, in line with Government guidelines, to enable a small team of employees to provide vital support to the Royal Navy ahead of the boat’s departure, while protecting their health and wellbeing.

The submarine was guided into open water for the first time before setting off on her inaugural journey to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the home of the UK’s Submarine Service.

Cliff Robson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: «This is an incredibly difficult time for employees, their families and the community but, as is often the case in times of great adversity, it has been truly humbling to see everyone come together to support the Government’s critical defence programmes and help deliver HMS Audacious (S122)».

Ian Booth, Chief Executive of the Submarine Delivery Agency, said: «The departure of HMS Audacious (S122) from Barrow is a key milestone in the Astute Class programme. The delivery of our incredibly complex submarine programmes depends on the extremely skilled submarine workforce and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain to deliver a first class product for the Royal Navy. I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in the significant efforts to meet this milestone and the key roles they have played in the shadow of these unprecedented circumstances to get HMS Audacious (S122) to sea».

The boat’s departure comes days after the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, thanked the defence industry for its efforts to continue to deliver critical and nationally important defence operations and programmes during the difficult and unprecedented times the country is facing.

The 97 metre/318 feet, 7,400-tonne Astute-class submarines are the most capable submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. The first three submarines, HMS Astute (S119), HMS Ambush (S120) and HMS Artful (S121) are in service, while the final three Astute-class are at various stages of construction at Barrow.

7th Astute submarine

On May 14, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the Ministry of Defence is investing a massive £2.5 billion in boosting Britain’s submarine building projects.

HMS Agincourt (S125) officially named
HMS Agincourt (S125) officially named

Speaking at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness Cumbria, the home of British submarine construction, he announced £960 million worth of contracts have been signed to ramp up the next phase of construction for the UK’s four nuclear-armed Dreadnought submarines.

He also announced that the Ministry of Defence has signed a £1.5 billion contract to build a seventh Astute hunter-killer submarine for the Royal Navy, before revealing that the attack boat will be called HMS Agincourt (S125). It will be the sixth vessel in the Royal Navy to be named after the Battle of Agincourt of 1415.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: «This multi-billion-pound investment in our nuclear submarines shows our unwavering commitment to keeping the UK safe and secure from intensifying threats. Agincourt will complete the Royal Navy’s seven-strong fleet of hunter-killer attack subs, the most powerful to ever enter British service, whilst our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate defence against the most extreme dangers we could possibly face. Not only is this a massive boost for our armed forces, but it’s huge for Barrow, the heart of sub-building in this country. Today’s news supports 8,000 BAE Systems’ submarine jobs, as well as thousands more in the supply chain, protecting prosperity and providing opportunity right across the country».

The multi-billion-pound announcements will help sustain around 8,000 jobs in BAE Systems’ submarine business, as well as thousands more across the UK submarine supply chain.

The Defence Secretary made the announcements during a ceremony, in which also opened a new £100 million submarine construction building in the Cumbria factory.

In front of a gathered workforce of employees and apprentices, he unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the state-of-the-art Central Yard Facility building which, at 26,700 metres squared, is equivalent in size to 21 Olympic-sized swimming pools and, at 45 metres high, is as tall as ten double-decker buses.

It will be used to outfit and test each section of the new Dreadnought submarines. The Dreadnought Submarine Programme will now move into its second phase. This will continue the design and build of the first Dreadnought submarine and commence the build of the second, including furthering the design and manufacture of the nuclear propulsion power plant.

This phase has commenced with contracts signed for £900 million and £60 million with BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce respectively.

Elsewhere, Defence Minister Guto Bebb will be in Derby today – with the Rolls-Royce contract seeing over 700 jobs sustained at their factory in the city.

Defence Minister Guto Bebb said: «The Dreadnought Programme is a true national endeavour, furthering our world-class nuclear capability. Today’s announcement includes a £60m contract for Rolls-Royce, supporting over 700 jobs here in Derby as the factory continues to make the reactors that will power our state-of-the-art Dreadnought subs into the 2060s. I’d like to thank everyone at Rolls-Royce in Derby for their contribution to maintaining our Continuous at Sea Deterrent, protecting us against the most serious threats to our way of life, every hour of every day».

The Submarine Delivery Agency, which was established last month, will project manage the construction of future Royal Navy submarines, and support those in-service, working with Navy Command and the newly established Defence Nuclear Organisation.

Chief Executive Officer of the Submarine Delivery Agency, Ian Booth said: «The incredibly complex Astute and Dreadnought programmes maximise the tremendously skilled and experienced workforce we have across the UK submarine business. Both programmes require commitment and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain and in the newly formed Dreadnought Alliance, which will deliver a step change in how we will work together to efficiently and effectively deliver nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy».

Cliff Robson, BAE Systems Submarines Managing Director, said: «Securing this latest funding for our submarines programmes is excellent news for BAE Systems and the 8,700 employees in our Submarines business, as well as our local community in Barrow and the thousands of people across our UK supply chain who help deliver these nationally important programmes for the Royal Navy. We continue to make progress on these highly complex and technical programmes and today’s announcements will allow us to move forward with greater certainty and stability».

Steve Dearden, President-Submarines for Rolls-Royce said: «The Dreadnought class programme is a vital, national endeavour and we are immensely proud of the role that we play as custodian of the naval nuclear propulsion capability in the UK. Dreadnought will be powered by the next generation Naval Pressurised Water Reactor technology, which will be simpler, require 30% less maintenance and have reduced in-service costs. Today’s delivery phase II announcement allows us to move from design through to manufacture and the delivery of major components that are essential for the submarine build timeline».

7th Astute-class

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».

Having already ordered six Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarines, the United Kingdom has finally decided to order a seventh boat, and the contract with BAE will be formalized this year, according to the Ministry of Defence (BAE photo)
Having already ordered six Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarines, the United Kingdom has finally decided to order a seventh boat, and the contract with BAE will be formalized this year, according to the Ministry of Defence (BAE photo)

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.