Astute Class Submarine
The laying of the keel for the HMS Astute in January of 2001 takes the Royal Navy into its second century of submarine operations. HMS Astute is the biggest and most powerful attack submarine to be built for the Royal Navy and, under the Smart Acquisition programme, with lower running costs and will have a much smaller ship's company. Although the Astute will be about 30 per cent larger than the Trafalgar Class this larger hull means that she is much easier to build and maintain.
HMS Astute will displace 7,800 tonnes dived and is 97 metres long, she will have six weapons tubes a massively increased firepower compared to predecessors and will be equipped from day one to operate cruise missiles. Construction on the second submarine of the class, HMS Ambush's keel was layed down in October 2003 with the third, HMS Artful's keel layed down in March 2005. The MoD is considering plans for a second batch of up to three more of these potent boats, and the final decision is expected soon.
"I have no doubt HMS Astute will be the World Class Submarine the Royal Navy needs. This Agreement is about restoring the confidence and ability to deliver that much needed capability."
DPA Attack Submarine Team Leader, Muir Macdonald.
The Future Role of The Submarine
The role of the submarine in the Royal Navy is changing as Rear Admiral Stevens, Flag Officer Submarines (FOSM), explained recently.
"The services SSN community has made a decisive break away from its Cold War emphasis on anti-submarine warfare (ASW)to embrace the Navy's new operational concept of Maritime Contributions to Joint Operations. The challenge now is to realise the full potential of the SSN across its wider range of taskings. Operations in direct support of surface forces are becoming a far more important part of the submarine service's operations.
"The introduction of new secure communications links will provide the improved connectivity essential for operating in conjunction with other task force units. Advances in the technological areas of digitisation, miniaturisation and processing of information gathered, will enable the submarine to become an increasingly valuable asset in covert intelligence gathering operations."