While Virginia building continues unabated (in fact, faster now that the Connecticut and Virginia congressional delegations have had their way), the HMS Astute has completed an important milestone of her own. Check out the Royal Navy’s official site. I continue to be impressed particularly by the fact that we have developed nuclear fuels that last 25 years.
“Astute A-sub completes first test dive
United Press International, 8 November 2007
The prototype British Astute class A-sub has carried out its first successful test dive.
‘The first of class Astute, the most advanced and capable class of submarines ever built for the Royal Navy, has dived beneath the waves for the first time, at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow, North West England," the company said in a statement last week.
‘Astute is crammed with some of the world’s most sophisticated technologies, including advanced nuclear reactor, sonar, optical mast, combat management and weapons systems," BAE Systems said.
‘The workforce at Barrow continues to demonstrate that although the production of nuclear powered submarines requires a specialist subset of skills, in line with the government’s Defense Industrial Strategy, we have the ability to deliver the intellectual resource and technologies required,” said Murray Easton, managing director, BAE Systems Submarine Solutions.
‘Astute class submarines will play a key role in the defense of the United Kingdom for decades to come. The boats demonstrate a step change in capability when compared to those they will replace,” Easton said.
BAE Systems said the submarine faced two days of tests involving a joint BAE Systems and Royal Navy crew of 60 to check its dive characteristics, along with safety critical systems including escape hatches, hydraulics and electrics.
The submarine is due to undergo further engineering and commissioning work at the Devonshire Dry-dock in Barrow before being delivered to the Royal Navy in fall 2008. It is scheduled to begin its operational duty in 2009.
‘Once deployed, Astute is designed not to require refueling throughout her full service life – in excess of 25 years – and has the ability to patrol for 90 days while remaining undetected, thousands of miles from home and hundreds of meters underwater," BAE Systems said.
BAE Systems said that, as Britain's only manufacturer of submarines, it was "responsible for the design, build and initial in-service support of the four 7,400 ton Astute class boats currently under various stages of construction and commissioning at its Barrow facility.’”