Waters lap around the 97m-long hull of Britain’s newest submarine as HMS Artful was lowered into a huge basin in Barrow for the first time.
The third of the Royal Navy’s Astute-class nuclear submarines was launched over the weekend in a delicate two-day operation. The boat was formally named last September in a ceremony inside BAE’s cavernous Devonshire Dock Hall which dominates the Barrow skyline.
“Witnessing a submarine move out of the hall and be readied for launch is truly inspiring and a source of great pride to the thousands who have played a part in getting Artful to this stage”, said Stuart Godden from BAE Systems.
Eight months later and the hunter-killer was ready to be rolled out of the building and into the neighbouring basin for the next stage of her fitting out and tests.
Engineers began edging the 7,400-tonne attack submarine out of the hall on Friday, before lowering her into the water on Saturday.
“Moving a submarine of this size from its build hall to the water is very challenging. It’s testament to the experience and careful planning of the team involved that Artful is now ready for the next phase in her programme,” said BAE’s Astute programme director Stuart Godden.
“Witnessing a submarine move out of the hall and be readied for launch is truly inspiring and a source of great pride to the thousands who have played a part in getting Artful to this stage.”
Thanks to the experience of building Astute and Ambush, Artful entered the Cumbrian waters in a more finished state than her older sisters, allowing the crew and BAE team to concentrate on test and commissioning work before she heads out on sea trials next year.
Of the seven boats in the Astute programme, the lead boat is on her maiden deployment, and HMS Ambush will soon be on patrol too. After Artful, the remaining four boats – Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon and an unnamed final submarine – are in various stages of construction at Barrow.
Press Release, May 19, 2014; Image: Royal Navy