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The latest of the Royal Navy's advanced attack submarines sails for the first time

20 February 2023
The latest of the Royal Navy's advanced nuclear-powered attack submarines, HMS Anson, has left the shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness where she was built ahead of sea trials.

The fifth Astute-class attack submarine sailed from BAE Systems’ shipyard bound for her new home, His Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Scotland, where she will undergo trials before taking on front-line duties.

The first four Astute-class submarines – HMS Astute, HMS Ambush, HMS Artful and HMS Audacious – are already in service with the Royal Navy. HMS Anson was formally commissioned at a ceremony last August, marking her entry into the Royal Navy’s fleet.

Steve Timms, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Submarines business, said: "It’s with enormous pride that we bid farewell to HMS Anson as she departs our site to take up her vital role helping to protect the UK’s national security.

“This is a truly national endeavour, so delivering the most capable attack submarine ever built for the Royal Navy is a tremendous moment for our company, our employees, the Barrow community and the whole of the submarine enterprise, not least our vast and crucially important UK wide supply chain."

The submarine is the eighth Royal Navy vessel to bear the Anson name, after Admiral George Anson.

The Astute class – the first nuclear-powered submarines to be designed entirely in a three-dimensional, computer-aided environment – represent the cutting edge of the UK’s military capabilities. 

They are the most advanced boats ever operated by the Royal Navy, providing the capability needed to defend the UK and its allies’ interests at home and overseas.

They are armed with the long-range Tomahawk land attack missiles and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes.

Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence, said: “HMS Anson will play a vital role in defending the UK, providing a competitive edge for decades to come, and I am proud to see her make her journey up to her permanent home on the Clyde.

“Supporting tens of thousands of jobs across the UK, our Astute-Class submarines are a leading example of our commitment to defence manufacturing, continuing to boost British industry for decades to come.”

The nuclear reactors that power the Astute class never need to be refuelled during their 25-year service period, while the ability to purify water and air means their range is only limited by the amount of food on board. 

As a result, like her sister boats, HMS Anson will be capable of circumnavigating the globe without resurfacing. Weighing 7,800 tonnes, she is 97m long – just short of two Olympic swimming pools.

Commander David ‘Bing’ Crosby, Commanding Officer of HMS Anson, said: “My team and I are grateful to all across the build enterprise and Submarine Delivery Agency who have made HMS Anson such a formidable submarine.  

“We are eagerly looking forward to putting the boat through her paces on sea trials, realising her full potential and joining our colleagues on the Clyde – the home of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.”

The final two submarines in the class – Agamemnon and Agincourt – are in various stages of construction at Barrow.

The submarine manufacturing industry supports thousands of UK jobs. BAE Systems’ submarine programmes employ nearly 10,000, while thousands more are employed across the supply chain. 

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