Astute Class Submarine

The Astute Class is being brought in to service as a replacement for the Trafalgar Class nuclear powered attack submarines, with plans for seven vessels in total to be built and commissioned.

Each vessel will have a displacement of 7,400 tonnes when submerged and will be 97m long with a beam of 11.3m. Propulsion comes from a Rolls-Royce PWR2 reactor and MTU 600 kW diesel generators, giving the Astute Class a top speed of 30 knots while submerged. Each submarine produces its own oxygen and fresh water supplies from the ocean, meaning the Astute Class can circumnavigate the globe while submerged, and the only limit to the length of dive is the amount of food that can be carried. Due to the advanced nuclear reactor powering the class the submarine will never require re-fuelling in its 25 year life.

Like all Royal Navy submarines, the Astute class has a reinforced bridge fin, designed to allow the vessel to surface through ice. The Astute class can also be fitted with a module to allow the deployment of Special Forces. Further to this, the acoustic signature of the Astute class submarines is masked by more than 39,000 acoustic tiles, giving the vessels better stealth quality than any other submarine in the history of the Royal Navy.

Key systems on-board this class are the Thales Sonar 2076, the World’s most advanced sonar system with a processing power the same as 2000 laptop computers. The system has the world’s largest number of hydrophones (13,000), effectively providing the best “hearing” of any Submarine in service today. Further to this, each submarine has 2 Thales CM010 optronic masts and uses Raytheon’s Successor IFF (Identification Friend or Foe).

Weaponry carried on-board the Astute Class includes Tomahawk Block IV Land Attack missiles and Spearfish Heavyweight Torpedoes. These are launched from the six 21 inch Torpedo Tubes built in to each vessel.

The Astute Class has been designed at a number of locations across the UK, with the final design being constructed at BAE Systems Devonshire Build Hall in Barrow-in-Furness.

The first vessel in the class, HMS Astute, was ordered on 17 March 1997 (along with boats 2 & 3), with construction commencing in January 2001. The boat was officially launched on 8 June 2007 before being commissioned and entering service on 27 August 2010. The second vessel in the class, HMS Ambush was officially launched on 6 January 2011, entering service on 1 March 2013. The third vessel, HMS Artful, was launched on 17 May 2014 and is expected to enter service in 2015. Boats 4, 5 and 6 (named Audacious, Anson and Agamemnon) have all been ordered with boat 7 (HMS Ajax) confirmed but not officially ordered. These are expected to enter service in 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2024 respectively. The lifespan of these vessels is expected to be 25 years.

Number in Class: 7

Names: Astute, Ambush, Artful, Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon, Ajax

Builders: BAE Systems Submarines

UK NEST Members involved: Babcock Marine, BMT, SEA, Rolls Royce, Thales