MORE than 250 people flooded into Barrow shipyard this morning to mark the official naming of the fourth Astute Class submarine, Audacious.

Children from 12 local schools turned out for the occasion and revelled in the ceremony as they waved their union flags and listened to the festive music performed by Ulverston Victoria High School choir and Royal Marines band.

BAE Systems employees joined crew members and their families in addition to guests such Barrow mayor Anita Husband and Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock, who said it was a "proud day" for the town.

Guests watched as Lady Jones, Audacious' sponsor and wife of Admiral Sir Phillip Jones, the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, named the 7,400 tonne, 97-metre-long attack submarine. In keeping with tradition, she then smashed a bottle of locally brewed beer against her hull.

Tony Johns, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: "Today marks an important milestone in Audacious' build programme and is the culmination of many years' hard work. We have already delivered three highly-capable Astute class submarines to the Royal Navy and Audacious now takes another significant step towards joining her sister submarines. This is a fitting end to a very important year for our business, in which we also began construction on the Dreadnought submarine programme and opened the first of our new facilities. The focus for Audacious now turns to getting her ready for launch next year."

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said: "HMS Audacious is the fourth in our fleet of Astute Class submarines, the largest and most advanced attack submarines in service with the Royal Navy, already providing unprecedented levels of stealth and attack capability across the world.

“Backed by a rising defence budget and a £178 billion equipment plan, Barrow will remain the hub of our submarine building programmes for years to come.”

Audacious will stay inside the Company's main construction facility – the Devonshire Dock Hall – following today's ceremony, before being launched next year.

BAE Systems is the prime contractor responsible for the design, build, test and commissioning of the seven Astute class nuclear-powered attack submarines. It is also the industrial lead for the Dreadnought programme, the Royal Navy's next generation of submarines that will carry the continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.

The Company’s Submarine operation employs approximately 8,000 people and spends more than £300M per year with over 3,000 suppliers – 85 per cent of whom are based in the UK.