Nuclear-powered submarine launched

Britain's latest nuclear-powered submarine has been launched.

Astute class submarine Artful, designed and built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, as it rolls out of the Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria (BAE Systems/PA)
Astute class submarine Artful, designed and built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, as it rolls out of the Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria (BAE Systems/PA)

Artful, a 7,400-tonne, 106-yard-long attack submarine, was edged out of its giant construction hall at the Devonshire Dock Hall in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, on Friday and was carefully lowered into the water the following day.

Artful, the third of seven highly complex Astute-class submarines being designed and built for the Royal Navy, will now begin the next phase of its test and commissioning process ahead of sea trials next year.

But it will also undergo a series of complex tests to prove the safety and operability of its systems before it departs for sea trials.

The Ministry of Defence's director submarines, Rear Admiral Mike Wareham, said: "The Astute programme is making real progress and the sight of the third submarine afloat in the water is a reflection of the hard work of both the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and industry.

"The launch of this submarine brings it a step closer to entering into service where it will provide a key capability for the Royal Navy and an essential component of the submarine service into the future."

The Astute class of vessels, while nuclear powered but not nuclear armed, has great conventional missile firepower, state-of-the-art communications equipments and advanced stealth technology, making them quiet and harder to detect, according to the MoD.

Stuart Godden, for builders BAE Systems, said: "The launch of Artful is another significant step forward in the Astute programme.

"Building on past experiences we've been able to launch her in the most advanced state of construction of any submarine to be built in Barrow.

"This allows us to now fully concentrate on the test and commissioning activities required to get her to sea.

"Moving a submarine of this size from its build hall to the water is very challenging. It's testament to the experience and careful planning of the team involved that Artful is now ready for the next phase in her programme.

"Witnessing a submarine move out of the hall and be readied for launch is truly inspiring and a source of great pride to the thousands who have played a part in getting Artful to this stage."

Artful was officially named in front of thousands of guests in September at an event to mark the end of its build process.

Sister vessels include HMS Astute and HMS Ambush. The other submarines in the class - in various stages of design or build - are Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon and Ajax.