HMS Audacious Sails from Barrow
(Source: UK MoD Submarine Delivery Agency; issued April 6, 2020)
HMS Audacious is accompanied by tugs as she leaves BAE’s shipyard at Barrow-on-Furness to sail to her new home base at Naval Base Clyde, eleven years after construction start. The boat will prepare for her sea trials. (BAE photo)
HMS Audacious, the Royal Navy’s fourth Astute Class submarine, has sailed from the BAES shipyard in Barrow in-Furness for her new home at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, where she will prepare for sea trials before entering operational service with the Royal Navy.

Built by BAE Systems, which employs around 9,000 people in its submarine business in Barrow, including those that work on the Astute programme, [which] supports thousands more working in the UK supply chain.

Ian Booth, SDA Chief Executive of the Submarine Delivery Agency, said: “The departure of HMS Audacious from Barrow is a key milestone in the Astute Class programme. The delivery of our incredibly complex submarine programmes depends on the extremely skilled submarine workforce and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain to deliver a first-class product for the Royal Navy. I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in the significant efforts to meet this milestone and the key roles they have played in the shadow of these unprecedented circumstances to get HMS Audacious to sea.”

Among the most technologically advanced submarines operating in the world today, the departure of HMS Audacious marks a significant milestone in the Astute programme, which is providing seven new attack submarines for the Royal Navy and the capability it needs to defend UK interests at home and overseas.

“The delivery of our incredibly complex submarine programmes depends on the extremely skilled submarine workforce and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain to deliver a first-class product for the Royal Navy”

The Astute Class submarines feature the latest nuclear-powered technology and the Sonar 2076. The 7,400-tonne boats can circumnavigate the world submerged, limited only by their food storage capacity, manufacturing the crew’s oxygen from seawater as they go. They also have the ability to operate covertly and remain undetected in almost all circumstances despite being 50 per cent bigger than the Royal Navy’s current Trafalgar Class submarines which is being replaced by the Astute Class.

HMS Audacious will join HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful, which are already in service with the Royal Navy, contributing to operations and supporting the Continuous At Sea Deterrent posture. HMS Audacious will be joined by Astute Boats 5, 6, and 7 – Anson, Agamemnon, and Agincourt respectively by the end of 2026.

COVID-19 has changed the way we are working at Barrow and our absolute priority is the health and safety of the workforce and local community. Precautions have been taken to implement social distancing and protection measures on site to allow work on critical operations such as HMS Audacious.

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HMS Audacious Sets Sail for Her Home Base
(Source: BAE Systems; issued April 6, 2020)
HMS Audacious, the fourth of seven Astute-class attack submarines being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, set sail from our Barrow-in-Furness site today.

New ways of working and amended protocols have been introduced at the site, in line with Government guidelines, to enable a small team of employees to provide vital support to the Royal Navy ahead of the boat’s departure, while protecting their health and wellbeing.

The submarine was guided into open water for the first time before setting off on her inaugural journey to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the home of the UK’s Submarine Service.

Cliff Robson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: "This is an incredibly difficult time for employees, their families and the community but, as is often the case in times of great adversity, it has been truly humbling to see everyone come together to support the Government’s critical defence programmes and help deliver HMS Audacious."

Ian Booth, Chief Executive of the Submarine Delivery Agency, said: “The departure of HMS Audacious from Barrow is a key milestone in the Astute Class programme. The delivery of our incredibly complex submarine programmes depends on the extremely skilled submarine workforce and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain to deliver a first-class product for the Royal Navy. I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in the significant efforts to meet this milestone and the key roles they have played in the shadow of these unprecedented circumstances to get HMS Audacious to sea.”

The boat’s departure comes days after the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, thanked the defence industry for its efforts to continue to deliver critical and nationally important defence operations and programmes during the difficult and unprecedented times the country is facing.

The 97 metre, 7,400-tonne Astute-class submarines are the most capable submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. The first three submarines, HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful are in service, while the final three Astute-class are at various stages of construction at Barrow.

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