Construction on the UK Royal Navy's sixth of seven Astute-class next-generation nuclear submarines, HMS Agamemnon, has begun following a keel-laying ceremony at the BAE Systems yard in Barrow-in-Furness, UK.
Built by BAE Systems, the submarines can cruise at a submerged speed of 29k, while carrying a crew of 98 and armed with 36 torpedoes and missiles, including Tomahawk cruise missiles, Spearfish torpedoes and mines with six 533mm torpedo tubes.
MoD submarines director rear admiral Simon Lister said the sixth Astute-class submarine is expected to be built quicker and more efficiently than its predecessors and demonstrate the re-establishment of the national submarine-building capability in Barrow-in-Furness.
Powered by a nuclear reactor to operate for 25 years without refuelling, the 93m-long, 11.3m-wide submarines will eventually replace the Royal Navy's existing Swiftsure and Trafalgar-class vessels.
Defence Equipment, Support and Technology minister Philip Dunne said the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has also signed a new contract with BAE which will save £380m over the next eight years to ensure that the Royal Navy's submarine capability is delivered efficiently.
"By ensuring the UK's submarine programme remains affordable, this new contract will help deliver the Astute-class, pave the way for the future successor nuclear deterrent submarines, and secure around 5,000 jobs at BAE Systems and thousands more in over 400 suppliers across the UK submarine supply chain," Dunne said.
The first and second submarines of the class, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush are both nearing the completion of their extensive sea trials and have been delivered to the Royal Navy to start preparation for operations.
HMS Artful, the third Astute-class submarine is due to undergo the final construction phase while the fourth and fifth Astute-class submarines, HMS Audacious and HMS Anson, are expected to be commissioned in 2020 and 2022 respectively.
Image: Royal Navy's sixth Astute-class submarine undergoing construction. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.