The UK Royal Navy’s third Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine has been christened as HMS Artful (S121), during a ceremony held at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, UK.
Built by BAE Systems, the 97m-long and 11.3m-wide submarine can accommodate a crew of 98 and will eventually replace existing Swiftsure and Trafalgar-class vessels for the Royal Navy.
UK Defence Equipment, Support and Technology minister Philip Dunne said that the HMS Artful is the one of most advanced attack submarine ordered by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), to offer unprecedented levels of stealth and attack capability for the Royal Navy.
"The Astute submarine building programme represents a significant investment by the government and is set to sustain over 5,000 UK jobs within BAE systems and the 400 separate suppliers across the supply chain," Dunne said.
Capable of carrying a crew of 98, the 97m-long Astute-class submarines feature Thales Sensors Outfit UAP(4) electronic support measures, and are armed with Tomahawk Block IV (tactical tomahawk) cruise missiles as well as Spearfish torpedoes and mines.
First Sea Lord Admiral, sir George Zambellas, said: "Ahead of her, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush are already being pressed hard towards operational use, contributing to the wider renaissance in the UK’s naval equipment programme and adding to the Royal Navy’s operational authority."
Astute-class vessels feature ECB680 communications and SEEPIRB emergency beacon buoys as well as an ultra-high frequency satellite communications antenna.
BAE Systems maritime submarines managing director, John Hudson, said the christening ceremony has marked a step ahead for 7,400t HMS Artful to joining its sister vessels HMS Astute and HMS Ambush in the Royal Navy fleet.
"The design and build of a nuclear-powered submarine is as challenging as it is complex, so today represents a significant milestone in Artful’s programme," Hudson said.
Scheduled to be launched early next year, HMS Artful is expected to start sea trials in early 2015.
Image: HMS Artful during naming ceremony. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.