The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a £1.3bn contract to BAE Systems to build the fifth Astute-class attack submarine, Anson, for the Royal Navy.

UK Defence Minister Philip Dunne said: "This £1.3bn contract marks an important step in the progress of the Astute programme. This is a key part of our £166bn plan to ensure that our armed forces have the equipment they need to defend the UK’s interests across the seas, in the skies and on land, both at home and abroad.

"This new contract for Anson not only provides significant financial savings of £50m to the taxpayer but also secures thousands of jobs in Barrow and across the UK supply chain, demonstrating the government’s commitment to increase defence spending each year for the rest of the decade."

"This £1.3bn contract marks an important step in the progress of the Astute programme."

The Astute-class is the first class of Royal Navy submarine that are not fitted with optical periscopes. However, it features high-specification video technology, which will provide images into the submarine control room through fibre-optic cables.

Equipped with the latest nuclear-powered technology, the Astute-class vessels can circumnavigate the world submerged, convert the crew’s oxygen from seawater, are capable of operating covertly and remain undetected in almost all circumstances.

MoD defence equipment and support organisation dubmarines director rear admiral Mike Wareham said: "The first two of class, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, are already in service and making a vital contribution to the defence of UK’s interest, both at home and overseas.

"Third of class Artful is undergoing sea trials and is due to be handed over to the Royal Navy by the end of 2015."

The remaining vessels, Audacious, Agamemnon and the yet-to-be-named seventh boat, are in various phases of construction.

Image: The UK Royal Navy’s fifth Astute-class submarine. Photo: courtesy of Crown Copyright.