Tag Archives: HMS Anson (S123)

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.

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.


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.

Fifth Astute submarine

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.

£1.3 Bn Contract Awarded for Fifth Attack Submarine
£1.3 Bn Contract Awarded for Fifth Attack Submarine

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.

HMS Artful (S121) – a 7,400 tonne, 97-meter long attack submarine
HMS Artful (S121) – a 7,400 tonne, 97-meter long attack submarine


  1. HMS Astute (S119)
  2. HMS Ambush (S120)
  3. HMS Artful (S121)
  4. Audacious (S122)
  5. Anson (S123)
  6. Agamemnon (S124)
  7. Ajax (S125)