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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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BAE Systems Barrow boss welcomes deal to build seven Astute subs

A MULTI-BILLION pound contract has been welcomed as “tremendous news” for the Barrow shipyard.

AADEFENCE Submarine 145793.jpg
COMMITMENT: BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines managing director, John Hudson, right, with then defence secretary and former Barrow MP John Hutton, at the keel-laying ceremony for Audacious back in 2009. Audacious is the fourth boat in the Astute class of nuclear powered attack submarines

Yesterday, the government announced that £1.2bn had been earmarked to build Audacious and a further £1.5bn has been committed to the remaining three submarines in the Astute class – boats five, six and seven.

The £1.2bn contract with BAE Systems, which safeguards 3,000 skilled jobs in Barrow, will be used to build the fourth Astute submarine, which will be the most technically advanced boat in the Royal Navy’s fleet.

Speaking to the Evening Mail, BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines managing director John Hudson said the announcement proved the government’s long-term commitment to Barrow.

He said: “It is a tremendous day for the yard and the announcement is tremendously important.

“The government issued back in 2010 the option to build all the Astute class submarines but we had to demonstrate that the programme was affordable and that we were capable of meeting their requirements.

“They have now made a confident commitment to us but for the first time they have also made a commitment to the rest of the programme.”

Mr Hudson said BAE would still have to deliver on its guarantees but that the contract should allow work on boats four, five, six and seven to continue until 2024.

Audacious is the fourth of seven Astute class submarines being built for the Royal Navy and further technical improvements will be made to the boat to ensure it is up-to-date.

The first two boats, HMS Astute and Ambush, are currently undergoing sea trials to rigorously test their systems, which Mr Hudson said are going well.

The third boat, Artful, is reaching the final stages of construction at Barrow shipyard, which should be completed in the new year.

The contract has been welcomed by Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock, who said work at the shipyard could act as a tonic for the town.

He said: “This announcement confirms the continuance of the programme that was started by the last Labour government and it is a reassuring confidence boost for Barrow and the surrounding communities. A thriving shipyard has to be the keystone of the Furness economy and that has been cemented by this welcome news.”

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