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Saturday, 04 July 2015

Barrow submarine Astute fires missiles for the first time

THE Royal Navy’s newest submarine, Barrow-built HMS Astute, has carried out a successful test firing mission in the Gulf of Mexico.

HMS Astute missile launch
A Tomahawk missile is fired from HMS Astute in the Gulf of Mexico. Picture courtesy of the Ministry of Defence/Royal Navy.

Tomahawk missiles rocketed from Barrow-built HMS Astute at up to 550 miles per hour.

The 5.5-metre cruise missile weighs 1,300kg and has a range of more than 1,000 miles.

The submarine’s Commanding Officer, Commander Iain Breckenridge, said: “This first-of-class firing proves that Astute is a truly capable submarine. It means that the UK submarine service will be able to provide the UK’s strike capability for many years to come.”

The submarine is in the Gulf of Mexico for the first test run of her system. She has the largest weapon-carrying capacity of all the Royal Navy’s attack submarines and can hold a combination of up to 38 Tomahawk missiles and Spearfish torpedoes.

The UK is the only other country supplied Tomahawk technology by the USA. It has been in operation since 1999 and has been launched from submarines to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and, most recently, Libya.

The Astute class of nuclear powered attack submarines are the most technologically advanced submarines to serve with the Royal Navy and will progressively replace the Trafalgar Class currently in service.

They have been designed with modern operations in mind and are vastly different in shape, size, capacity and capability to their predecessors.

Commander Breckenridge said: “The most noticeable difference for the ship’s company is that for the first time everyone has their own bunk. Design changes that will make an operational difference include the fact that we have a reactor that will never need to be refuelled in the boat’s 25-year life.

“We have optronic masts instead of traditional periscopes, which means we have saved lots of space in the control room as well as having the benefit of digital cameras instead of traditional optical periscopes.” 

HMS Astute will continue her trials in the USA until the early spring before returning to the UK for training before her first operational deployment.


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