Construction of HMS Audacious has fallen yet further behind schedule. From the limited public information available, here we briefly assess the situation.
(HMS Audacious, the Royal Navy’s fourth Astute-class nuclear-powered fleet submarine, was launched on 28 April 2017.—Ed)
As recently as February 2017, the MoD said it expected HMS Audacious to enter service in November 2018. More than two years later it is clear something is amiss. It is now June 2019 and Audacious remains afloat in the dock at Barrow and yet to put to sea, 12 years after her manufacture started.
In late 2018, HMS Magpie was dispatched to survey the Walney Channel at Barrow, supposedly in preparation for the submarines’ imminent departure. Sources at a company involved in supporting Audacious on sea trials stated in October 2018 that they expected to be called on to assist “next Spring”.
Responding to enquiries today, the MoD is only able to confirm Audacious will commence sea trials “this year” which could imply next week or months away. As for boat 5, HMS Anson, the MoD is even more vague, saying she is “expected to enter sea trials in the early 2020s.”
The delays to HMS Audacious risk the RN’s attack submarine force declining even further, at least temporarily, down to just 5 boats. Whether the current 6-boat fleet can be maintained is now probably dependent on the oldest submarine, HMS Trenchant, being kept going beyond her planned decommissioning this year.
Even if HMS Audacious started sea trials tomorrow, it will take many months to rectify the inevitable snags, be commissioned and then work the boat up to be fully operational. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the SaveTheRoyalNavy website.