BAE Systems announced that it has been given the go-ahead to begin constructing the fifth Astute class submarine and start the procurement process for a sixth vessel.
It follows a statement made on Wednesday 24 March by UK Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth, in which he underlined the Government’s continuing support for the Astute programme. The first of class Astute attack submarine is currently undertaking sea trials, the second (Ambush) is due to be launched later this year, and the third and fourth (Artful and Audacious) are both advanced in their construction.
The Secretary of State said: “The Government has made a contractual commitment to proceed with the initial build of Astute Boat 5 and long lead procurement activities associated with Astute Boat 6, at a total cost of over £300m. This commitment is necessary now to ensure a consistent workload for the UK’s submarine building industry.
“This investment will allow the timely delivery of the Astute class boats, which are the most advanced attack submarines ever ordered for the Royal Navy. Furthermore, since the same industrial skills, experience and capability are necessary to deliver the successor deterrent submarine programme, this investment will play a part in ensuring a smooth transition from the Astute programme to the successor deterrent.”
John Hudson, Managing Director of BAE Systems, Submarine Solutions commented: “I am delighted the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the submarine programme today. This order represents a key milestone in the overall Astute class submarine programme, and underlines the Government’s confidence in BAE Systems’ ability to deliver an advanced submarine capability for the Royal Navy.
“The commitment to the successor programme will allow BAE Systems to continue to recruit highly-skilled engineers to meet existing and future workload requirements, and progress the concept design work. Just as importantly, it will help sustain key skills and capabilities throughout our workforce, our suppliers and partners. “
The 7,400 tonne submarines will be the fifth and sixth of what is expected to be a seven boat Astute class, the largest and most powerful attack submarines ever built in Britain for the Royal Navy. The Astute class will replace the Swiftsure and Trafalgar class, which have been in-service since the 1970s and 1980s respectively.
Work is expected to start immediately at the shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness.