Babcock has opened a new docking cradle at Devonport, which will allow the UK Royal Navy Astute Class submarines to use the nuclear docking facilities at the yard.

HMS Astute, the lead ship of the new-generation nuclear-powered attack submarines, will undergo its first set of sea trials at the new docking cradle.

The new cradle was installed to accommodate the Astute submarines, which are considerably larger in mass and geometry than the Swiftsure and Trafalgar Class attack submarines.

The latest docking cradle, in 15 Dock, is part of the Astute readiness programme and complements the existing docking capability in the shiplift at Clyde.

The existing cradle, which supports the submarine while in dry dock, needed further extension to accept the larger submarine, with an additional nine cradle blocks.

In addition to the cradle block assemblies, each weighing approximately 22.5t, the Devonport dockyard has installed a complete set of wooden cappers and base plates to accommodate various classes of submarines.