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BAE Lays Keel Of New Astute-Class SSN (Oct. 23)

Minister for Defence Procurement, Lord Bach, today performed the traditional ‘laying of the keel’ ceremony for HMS Ambush - one of the biggest and most powerful attack submarines ever procured by the Royal Navy.

Currently under construction at BAE Systems, Barrow-in-Furness, HMS Ambush is the second of the Astute-class submarines ordered by the MoD. She joins HMS Astute - currently being assembled at the Barrow shipyard, and will be followed by HMS Artful.

With improved communications, a greater capacity for joint operations and the ability to carry more weaponry, the Astute-class submarines will become a cornerstone of UK defense capability.

After touring the shipyard and meeting members of the workforce, Lord Bach said:

“This ceremony marks an important stage in a challenging project. The Astute class will be the most advanced and powerful attack submarine the Royal Navy has ever operated and these boats will play a key part in our defenses for decades to come.

“The Royal Navy has a requirement for nuclear powered submarines well into the future and the Barrow-in-Furness yard remains the UK’s center of excellence for submarine building.

“Submarines are extremely demanding engineering projects, and the Astute class is no exception. I am happy to be able to witness this significant project landmark.”

Around 5,000 people are employed on the program, which has an expected cost to the MoD of around £3.6bn.


1. HMS Astute is expected to enter service in 2008, pending final approval.

2. Announcements of the procurement of further Astute-class boats will be made at the appropriate time.

3. Astute-class submarines will displace 7,800 tonnes when dived and are 97 meters long. They will have six weapons tubes and massively increased firepower compared with earlier attach submarines. They can dive to depths in excess of 300 meters and will have a compliment of 98 men. They will be powered by a Pressurised Water Reactor 2, equipped with Core H, which will fuel the reactor for the submarine's full service life, ending the need for costly reactor refuellings.

4. Astute-class submarines will be based at Faslane on the Clyde and will undergo refits at Devenport.

Minister Lays Keel of Second Astute-Class Submarine