UK: BAE Systems Holds Keel Laying Ceremony for Sixth Astute Class Submarine

BAE Systems Holds Keel Laying Ceremony for Sixth Astute Class Submarine

Assembly of the Royal Navy’s sixth Astute Class attack submarine, Agamemnon, has begun at Barrow-in-Furness.

The keel, which is the first part of the boat to be built, was unveiled at a ceremony at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness by Defence Minister Philip Dunne yesterday, 18 July.

It comes as MOD announces that the first 2 of the 7 Astute Class submarines, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, are nearing completion of their extensive sea trials and have been handed over to the Royal Navy to begin to prepare for operations.

The 7 Astute Class submarines are being built for the Royal Navy to replace the Trafalgar Class submarines. The Astute Class have greater firepower, state-of-the-art communications equipment and advanced stealth technology, making them quieter than their predecessors and harder to detect.

HMS Astute and HMS Ambush are the first submarines in class to be accepted by Navy Command, which is responsible for operating all of the Royal Navy’s vessels. The next 3 submarines in the class: Artful, Audacious and Anson are all at varying stages of build and today’s keel-laying for Agamemnon marks the next key milestone for the programme.

BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines is responsible for delivering all 7 Astute Class submarines and for the design of the successor to the Vanguard Class, which will carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

MOD has agreed a new contract with BAE Systems that will not only help to sustain the thousands of highly skilled defence jobs based at Barrow-in-Furness but also drive down the costs of building future submarines.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne today signed a new contract which will deliver £380 million of savings over the next 8 years. This will ensure that the Royal Navy’s submarine capability is delivered efficiently and provides good value for money for the taxpayer.

Mr Dunne said:

The keel-laying of the sixth submarine, Agamemnon, and the handover of HMS Astute and HMS Ambush to the Royal Navy are huge milestones, reflecting significant progress in the programme.

By ensuring the UK’s submarine programme remains affordable, this new contract will help deliver the Astute Class, pave the way for the future Successor nuclear deterrent submarines and secure around 5,000 jobs at BAE Systems and thousands more in over 400 suppliers across the UK submarine supply chain.

Rear Admiral Simon Lister, MOD’s Director of Submarines, said:

This is the sixth submarine in the Astute Class and we expect her to be built quicker and more efficiently than her predecessors, demonstrating the re-establishment of the national submarine-building capability in Barrow-in-Furness.

Better organised, better planned and better built, new techniques in the back office and on the shop floor will ensure the time-honoured skills of the workforce are made the most of.

Press Release, July 19, 2013; Image: MoD