The Royal Navy’s fifth Astute-class nuclear submarine has been christened as Anson in a virtual ceremony held at BAE Systems‘ site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, UK.

The newest Astute-class vessel was blessed by the Venerable Martyn Gough, Archdeacon for the Royal Navy.

Submarine Delivery Agency CEO Ian Booth said: “This is the first submarine to bear the name HMS Anson but the eighth naval vessel to carry the title, which has a rich history spanning several hundred years.

“I am certain she will carry on that heritage well into the future as she joins a world-beating, cutting-edge submarine fleet that is of strategic importance to the UK’s security and prosperity.”

The company is under contract to build a total of seven Astute-class submarines for the British Navy. These boats feature advanced nuclear technology and never require to be refuelled.

The first four vessels, namely HMS Astute, HMS Ambush, HMS Artful and HMS Audacious, are already in service.

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Along with Anson, the final two submarines, namely Agamemnon and Agincourt, are at various stages of construction.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Anson will play a vital role in defending the UK from deep-sea threats posed by adversaries around the world and provide a competitive edge for decades to come.

“The name Anson already exemplifies the long and rich history of our Royal Navy and now, thanks to Anson’s latest maritime technology, showcases excellence in UK shipbuilding.”

The 97m-long 7,400t submarine is expected to be launched into the Barrow waters early next year. It will leave for sea trials in 2022.

In March, Thales UK secured a £330m contract from BAE Systems Submarines to work on the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought-class submarines.