The UK’s newest nuclear submarine Artful has been officially launched on Saturday.
The 97m long, 7,400 tone nuclear-powered submarine is the third addition to the fleet of the Astute-class submarines – the newest type of nuclear submarines to serve with the Royal Navy, offering a new standard in terms of weapons load, stealth and communication capabilities.
Developed and manufactured for the Royal Navy by BAE Systems the vessel began its removal from the company’s construction hall on Friday 16 May and was carefully lowered into water one day later.
“Building on past experiences we’ve been able to launch her (Artful) in the most advanced state of construction of any submarine to be built in Barrow,” said Stuart Godden, Astute Programme Director for BAE Systems. “This allows us to now fully concentrate on the test and commissioning activities required to get her to sea.”
The submarine will now undergo a series of safety and operability tests prior to commencing real-life sea trials next year.
“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 MOD and industry,” said the Ministry of Defence’s Director Submarines, Rear Admiral Mike Wareham.
“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 first of the Astute class of submarines, identically named Astute, was launched in 2007 and commissioned in 2010. One year later, the second vessel Ambush was launched and commissioned in 2013.
Further five submarines of the Astute class are currently in various stages of construction, all being built by BAE Systems.
BAE Systems is also leading the design of a replacement to the Vanguard class of submarine, working alongside the UK's Ministry of Defence, Rolls Royce and Babcock on a programme that now employs more than 2,000 people – of which approximately 1,400 are from BAE Systems. This number is expected to grow significantly throughout 2014 as the programme continues to gather momentum.