Britain Puts GBP 200M Down on HMS Audacious SSN
As the clock ticks down to June 8, 2007, the Royal Navy prepares to launch the first nuclear attack submarine of their new Astute Class and make her HMS Astute. Each of the new Astute Class submarines is 7,800t, and will be stealthier than the current Trafalgar Class SSNs despite having 47% more displacement. The subs will feature a bunk for each sailor (!), and DID has covered their new 2076 Stage 5 sonar system; no word on whether they’ll also feature HMS Torbay’s new camouflage paint system.
Meanwhile, the UK MoD has announced a GBP 200 million contract (currently about $395 million) to begin preparing for construction of the 4th boat at the BAE Systems shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. This initial contract runs to March 2008, and covers initial build work only. The MoD aims to contract for the whole boat by late 2008, and detailed terms and conditions will be agreed over the intervening period.
The first 3 Astute Class boats cost about GBP 1.22 billion each (currently about $2.4 billion), a price tag very similar to the USA’s new 7,300t Virginia Class. Like Virginia, they will never need to have their nuclear reactors refueled during their 25 year service life. After Astute will come Ambush and Artful, followed by the newly-announced Audacious. All Astute Class submarines will be based at HM Naval Base Clyde, where a GBP 150 million state-of-the-art jetty is currently under construction. HMS Astute is due to arrive at Clyde in April 2008 after a year of trials. BAE Systems’ release adds that Astute will enter service early in 2009.