HMS Audacious, the fourth of seven Astute-class attack submarines being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, set sail from Barrow-in-Furness for the first time on the 6th of April. 

BAE say that 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, say the firm.

Audacious Under Construction MOD 45155779.jpg
Astute Class submarine Audacious under construction at Barrow in Furness shipyard in Cumbria.

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.”

Ian Booth, Chief Executive of the Submarine Delivery Agency, said:

“The departure of HMS Audacious 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 to sea.”

Image
Image via BAE Systems.

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.

As SaveTheRoyalNavy.org reported in October last year, the boat has suffered issues with delays and a revised delivery schedule was delayed. Their article is well worth reading for an indepth look at the delays.

“HMS Audacious is in effect a ‘batch II’ boat with some significant internal changes from the first 3 boats and there is a long and complex legacy of political and industrial mistakes that have affected the Astute programme.”

The Royal Navy say that the 97 metre, 7,400-tonne Astute-class submarines are the most capable submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. The first three submarines, HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful are in service, while the final three Astute-class are at various stages of construction at Barrow.

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Andy P

About bloody time.

Rob Collinson

Yipeeeeeee

Barry Larking

Good news. Best wishes to Audacious and families.

Daniele Mandelli

Hope the rest of the batch 2’s speed up now with lessons learned.

The Battleships of the modern RN.

HF

Always the way with a new class – lessons are learned from the early vessels.

Andy P

I know these are a sort of ‘batch 2’ but the lessons were supposed to be learned from Astute itself. This delay is pretty poor considering we took long enough to get the Astute build going. We ran the S and T’s ragged to keep the Fleet boat numbers up only for this delay, its pretty poor that we’ve only got the first 3 in and they were delayed.

Paul T

Im curious to know what differences their are compared to the first three but presume that information is not for public consumption.If its a case of short term pain for long term gain then the delays make sense,but as you say the Astute Build was problematic from the start,seems a bit risky too add more hiccups.

Trevor

Worrying, Boris is in intensive care.
Leaving aside personal concerns, which should not be ignored, the socio strategic economic future of the country is on a cusp.

Mark B

True Trevor I couldn’t agree more. He had managed to unite the Government, politicians & most of the public in a strategy to defeat this disease. It is a long time since a British leader got up close and personal with an enemy of the state. I hope he prevails.

ChariotRider

Hi Mark B, I was no fan of Boris, but he has stepped up when the country needed him the most. He has on the whole impressed me during this emergency and regardless, to have the leader of the Government down at such a crucial moment is bad news. We will soon see how robust our Cabinet style of Government is. Given the speed of events – it is only about 3 weeks since the number of cases started to ramp up in the UK – it will be tough for Dominic Raab to step into Boris’ shoes and get… Read more »

Mark B

ChariotRider I suspect Dominic may have an easier task following Boris than a more detailed person like Teresa May. Boris set the tone of Government with broad confident policies and then seemed to let people get on with them. If that was true we should see things continue as normal with Raab scanning the detail allowing Boris to remain the figurehead in control. Assuming this is the case we should see little change but if I’m wrong everything may come tumbling down.

ChariotRider

Hi Mark B, What you say is true prior to the crisis, but recent reports suggest that Boris Johnson has stepped up and taken responsibility for the final key decisions. So I think there has been a change in style when the chips are down. The phrase being used is ‘first amongst equals’. The upside is that all key immediate decisions are reported as being made, so hopefully the PM will be fully recovered before the next wave of decisions will need to be made, as much for his sake and his family’s as for the country’s. Not because I… Read more »

Mark B

Hi ChariotRider, I agree Boris has stepped up and made the key decisions. I got the impression that his cabinet were full of like-minded people and I have not seen any sign of dissent. Perhaps everyone is onboard – we will see. Dominic looked a little daunted by the big chair but possibly that will fade – he will not have time to dwell on it. It is in my humble opinion too soon to predict the PM return to good health. The next 3-4 days are key but it looks like a better than even chance for him. I… Read more »

ChariotRider

I agree the next 3-4 days are key. I was very relieved to hear Boris was ‘stable’ this morning when I watched the news, for him and his family, but for the country as well.

Best wishes one and all.

CR

Andy

Fantastic news, but are these yesterdays technology already?

Andy

For the price of a single Astute we could have 32 of these.. https://news.usni.org/2019/04/17/u-k-developing-its-own-xluuv-for-royal-navy

Andy

Actually, it’s 128!

Ulya

I had read this article before Andy, 128 of these teamed up with your Poseidon aircraft and maybe ground based cruise missiles could be very effective area control. 3,000 nautical miles, would that be enough to cover much of your North sea area of interest though?

Andy

Well Ulya, it might very well be enough, unfortunately if that is the case we would probably only order about 16!

It’s great to have you in this forum. Always nice to hear another perspective.

Andy
Ulya

Thank you for the link, interesting article, and for your kind words Andy, but I think you are in very small club 😁

Ethan

Well of course they are ‘yesterdays’ technology, because ‘today’s’ technology is being built and tested and ‘tomorrow’s’ technology doesn’t exist yet. Not to mention future boats will be updated as technology advances.

Helions

Glad to see the builder’s issues seem to have been overcome and the program is delivering badly needed boats to the RN. I’m also glad the George VI has finally had a (capital) fleet unit named in his honor.

Cheers and stay healthy all

ChariotRider

Yeh, George VI played a significant role in the UK’s WWII war effort, so about time he was recognised…

Alan Reid

Yes, it will be great to have a KGVI in the fleet. What a cool name!

julian1

Could the first 3 boats be brought up to the same standard/configuration as the last 4? Will that happen at the first major refit. With a class so small, it takes half the boats being built to achieve the “optimum”

Mike

What does ‘national defence’ mean in a pandemic? It’s no time to buy fighter jets

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/08/national-defence-corona-pandemic-fighter-jets

🙂

Daniele Mandelli

Guardian.

Airborne

You’ve cut and pasted that crap twice, damn you aren’t just sad you are lazy!

arcad2000

Video review of HMS Audacious sea voyage in Russian!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P70c1dewm1s

Dean Jones

How will the submarine be tested prior to being handed over to the RN