The British Royal Navy’s Astute-class attack submarine, HMS Audacious, has embarked on its maiden journey to the Naval Base Clyde, the home of the UK’s Submarine Service.

The submarine, built by BAE Systems, departed from the Barrow-in-Furness site to sail to its home base.

As new protocols have been introduced at the site due to the Covid-19 crisis, only a small team of employees was present to support the ship’s departure.

BAE Systems Submarines managing director Cliff Robson said: “This is an incredibly difficult time for employees, their families and the community but, as is often the case in times of great adversity, it has been truly humbling to see everyone come together to support the government’s critical defence programmes and help deliver HMS Audacious.”

The 97m-long HMS Audacious is the fourth submarine of its class.

It has a total displacement of 7,800t and can sail at a maximum speed of more than 30 knots.

The first three submarines of the class, HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful, are already in service.

Another three Astute-class submarines are currently under various stages of construction at the Barrow site.

Submarine Delivery Agency chief executive Ian Booth said: “The departure of HMS Audacious from Barrow is a key milestone in the Astute-class programme.

“The delivery of our incredibly complex submarine programmes depends on the extremely skilled submarine workforce and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain to deliver a first class product for the Royal Navy.”