Defence Procurement Minister, Baroness Symons laid the keel of the biggest and most powerful nuclear-powered attack submarine ordered by the MOD, HMS Astute, on the 100th anniversary of the keel-laying of the Royal Navy's first submarine, Holland 1. Two other Astute class submarines, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful, are also on order from BAE SYSTEMS and will also be built at Barrow.
Baroness Symons said: "HMS Astute is the biggest and most powerful attack submarine to be built for the Royal Navy and, under our Smart Acquisition programme, she is being built about one fifth more quickly than earlier boats, will have lower running costs and will have a much smaller ship's company.
"She will also have massively increased firepower and will be equipped from day one to operate cruise missiles. This marks our continuing commitment to ensuring that our Armed Forces are provided with the best and most effective equipment possible.”
First steel for HMS Astute was cut about 14 months ago. She will be launched in 2004 and will enter service following about 18 months of commissioning and sea trials. Construction of the second submarine in the class, HMS Ambush, is due to start later this year with the third, HMS Artful, following later.