The paying off of nuclear submarine HMS Torbay will leave the UK with just six nuclear powered attack submarines until HMS Audacious enters service.
Torbay was originally scheduled to be decommissioned in 2015 and will be replaced by one of the new Astute-class submarines. On the 6th if June 2017 HMS Torbay was photographed Gibraltar Naval Base flying her paying-off pennant.
HMS Torbay is a Trafalgar class nuclear submarine and was launched in 1985.
It is the custom in many navies for a ship which is “paying off” to wear an extremely long commissioning pennant, which is normally at least the length of the ship, and the length of which reflects the length of service. The present usage in the Royal Navy has degenerated to using paying-off pennants only as part of a ship’s decommissioning ceremony.
— Gibraltar Chronicle (@GibChronicle) June 6, 2017
In May 2011, she took part in Exercise Saxon Warrior in the Western Approaches. The exercise included the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, HMS Dauntless, HMS Westminster and a number of other vessels and culminated in a ‘Thursday War’ and later that year she entered a Revalidation and Assisted Maintenance Period at Devonport Royal Dockyard. This included communications upgrades with installation of the Cromwell radio antenna to enhance internal communications and the ship alongside upgrade, plus inspection of the hull and reactor, an overhaul of one of the reactor coolers and upgrades to many other systems.
— Daniel Ferro (@Gibdan1) June 6, 2017
Recently her replacement HMS Audacious was launched by BAE Systems at its site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
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. The nuclear attack submarine can hit targets up to 1,000km from the coast with pin-point accuracy and is equipped with a world-leading sonar capability and powered by a nuclear reactor.
The first three submarines in the class, HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful, are now in service with the final three Astute class submarines are at various stages of construction at the Barrow site.
Will Blamey, BAE Systems Submarines Managing Director, said:
“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.”
HMS Audacious will now begin the next phase of its test and commissioning programme ahead of leaving Barrow for sea trials next year.